New York Employment Discrimination Defense Attorney

What Can Happen if You Ignore a Discrimination Claim?

No one likes dealing with a dispute, and we often wish disputes would just go away. However, ignoring a discrimination claim can land employers into trouble and result in undesired legal consequences.

This is what occurred in a Florida discrimination case brought against a Clearwater adult entertainment club called Bliss Cabaret. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued the club and its successor corporation Executive Gentleman’s Club for firing African American Quatavia Harden who was employed as a bartender based on her race. The manager, Patrick Franke who hired Harden objected and refused to participate in the discrimination, and consequently, he was terminated. Later in the lawsuit, the EEOC added the parent company Southeast Showclubs, LLC as a party to the lawsuit. Race discrimination and retaliation are violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Because the defendants ignored the EEOC’s allegations and failed to respond, the Court ruled the defendants were guilty of discriminatory conduct and awarded $365,000 in relief to the EEOC, which included punitive damages, back pay, interest, compensatory damages and tax penalty offsets for Franke and Harden. The Court also granted injunctive relief that demanded the companies cease their discriminatory practices, that they incorporate non-retaliation and non-discrimination policies and report applicant flow and hiring data to the EEOC for compliance monitoring.

The best legal defense is preventative and helps you put measures in place so you do not become involved in discrimination issues. Unfortunately, companies often do not realize the importance of legal guidance until they face a lawsuit. At the first sign of a discrimination dispute, it is wise to seek legal counsel. Stephen Hans & Associates puts decades of legal experience to work on your behalf and works diligently to protect your rights as an employer.

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New York City Employment Defense Attorneys

Employer discrimination

What Is GINA and Why Is It Important to You as an Employer?

Your employment application questions can set you up for a discrimination lawsuit if you are not within the parameters of federal anti-discrimination laws.

GINA or the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act is one of the more recent nondiscrimination laws, passed in 2008. This law bears similarities to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in prohibiting employers from discriminating against applicants or employees based on medical or genetic information, which are often associated with disabilities.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently brought a lawsuit based on GINA and the ADA against Bedford Weaving, Inc. located in Virginia. The EEOC alleged that the company included questions on its employment application that asked for medical history and genetic information. Pamela Hendrick, who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) applied for work at the company in 2013 and disclosed her medical information in response to questions on the application. The company told Hendrick they had no open positions. However, they in fact had two open positions, and Hendricks qualified for both of them. In addition, companies are required by law to retain applications and hiring documentation for up to one year, and the company failed to do so.

GINA prohibits employers from requesting medical information during the application process and the ADA prohibits requesting disability information.

After parties could not reach a settlement during the pre-litigation conciliation process, the EEOC decided to sue and is seeking damages for back pay, compensation, injunctive relief and punitive damages.

If you have issues arising related to GINA or the ADA, seek legal advice as soon as possible. By working with a competent lawyer, you can often put preventative measures in place to avoid discrimination disputes. Stephen Hans & Associates has decades of legal experience defending employer’s rights in employment litigation and settlement negotiations.

Author: Stephen D. Hans

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Largest Delivery Company in the Nation Sued for Religious Discrimination

Religious discrimination has been in the news a lot recently. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) just filed a lawsuit against the United States’ largest package delivery company, UPS (United Parcel Service, Inc.) based on claims of religious discrimination.

The EEOC alleges that the UPS uniform and appearance policy conflicts with employee’s civil rights to observe their religious practices. Numerous employees were denied hiring or promotions as a result of the UPS policy, when in fact their hair and beards were an aspect of their religious practices.

Examples include a Muslim who applied for a driver helper position in Rochester, N.Y. He wore a beard as part of his religious practice and was told he had to shave his beard and that God would understand if he shaved his beard to obtain a higher paying job. He was eligible for a lower paying job if he decided not to shave the beard. The EEOC found instances at other facilities where Muslims and Christians were forced to shave their beards against their religious beliefs. In addition, a Rastafarian holding a part-time supervisor position in Fort Lauderdale did not cut his hair as part of his religious observance. When he requested a religious accommodation for the appearance policy, the manager told him he did not want any “employees looking like women on his management team.”

The EEOC claims when employees requested religious accommodations for particular positions that UPS put them on hold for years.

When religious accommodations create no undue hardship for an employer, failure to make the accommodation is in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. In this case, UPS has consistently upheld an appearance policy without making accommodations for employees’ religious practices. UPS employs more than 300,000 workers nationwide and operates in every state.

As a business owner, at the first sign of discrimination issues, it is wise to consult with an experienced employment defense attorney for legal advice. Stephen Hans & Associates brings extensive legal experience to the table when defending your rights as an employer and can provide you with valuable legal guidance.

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Is the Job Applicant’s Age a Factor You Consider When Hiring?

As a business owner, have you heard your manager claim that someone is too old to hire for a particular job? Or, have there been discussions that a younger person would be a better candidate for any number of reasons?

This line of thinking is something to watch out for because it very well may fall under age discrimination and put you at risk for an employment dispute or lawsuit.

Recently, the largest rent-a-car company in the nation, Enterprise Holdings Inc. settled a claim against its subsidiary Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company of Los Angeles. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed charges alleging that the Los Angeles location in Burbank, California denied 10 job applicants positions between 2008 and 2011 based on age. According to the EEOC, all of the applicants were age 40 and older, but the company hired younger less qualified candidates instead. The EEOC found that the company hired no applicants over 40 into their management trainee position during this three-year period. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits age discrimination of persons who are 40 or older when hiring or promoting employees.

The company disputed the allegation and argued that it failed to hire the older applicants because they were less qualified.

However, rather than pay the expenses of litigation, Enterprise Rent-A-Car of Los Angeles settled for $425,000 and entered into a three-year conciliation agreement. Besides the monetary payment, conditions of the agreement included:

  • Redistribution of the company’s anti-discrimination policy to all employees in the L.A. metro area
  • EEO training emphasizing age discrimination for all staff
  • Maintenance of an appropriate record-keeping system
  • Public press release on the matter

No company is too large or too small to benefit from trustworthy legal defense when facing allegations of discrimination. Stephen Hans & Associates is glad to provide your business with effective legal guidance and representation.

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NYC Employment Defense Discrimination Attorney

Author: Stephen D. Hans

What If an Employee Can’t Work the Schedule the Employer Wants?

In many situations, a schedule conflict is a reason not to hire a prospective employee. However, when the employee’s religion is the reason for the schedule conflict, you must be careful not to violate discrimination laws.

In 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought a religious discrimination lawsuit against a Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee on behalf of Darrell Litrell. Litrell applied for a baker position, was hired and told he would start on a Friday afternoon. He informed the manager that because of his faith as a Seventh-day Adventist, his Sabbath began Friday at sundown and lasted until sundown on Saturday. For this reason, he couldn’t start the job on a Friday afternoon. Subsequently, the manager revoked the job offer.

Litrell sought recourse from the EEOC, which took his case. The franchisee failed to reach a pre-litigation settlement with the EEOC through the conciliation process, and consequently, the case went to trial. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina found in favor of the EEOC, ruling that the prospective employee’s rights had been violated under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The court’s ruling against Dunkin’ Donuts included:

    • Paying $22,000 to Litrell in damages
    • An injunctive relief prohibiting the company from future religious discrimination as part of a five-year consent decree
    • Implementation of a policy to address religious discrimination
    • Annual training for all employees
    • Required reporting of all religious accommodation requests to the EEOC
    • Posting of its religious accommodation policy in all its North Carolina restaurants and facilities

When you have issues that arise with employees regarding potential discrimination, seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Stephen Hans & Associates has decades of legal experience defending employer’s rights in employment disputes and often works to help businesses avoid such issues in the first place.

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New York Employment Defense Attorney BLog

Dealing with Issues Involving Employee Medical Leaves

When an employee asks for a medical leave, are you justified in firing the employee?

Recently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought a lawsuit against Dunkin’ Donuts when the owner refused to grant medical leave to a regional manager. The lawsuit alleged that Joan O’Donnell had successfully performed her job, managing the stores at a number of the Dunkin’ Donuts locations. When diagnosed with breast cancer, she emailed the owner and explained she needed a medical leave to receive surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Instead of granting her the medical leave, the company abruptly discharged her due to her disability just before starting the requested leave.

She took the matter to the EEOC. However, when the EEOC conciliation process failed to

reach a settlement with Dunkin’ Donuts, the EEOC filed a lawsuit.

Under the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) , employers with 50 or more employees must grant a medical leave of up to 12 weeks when an employee has a serious health condition and requests a medical leave. Under the FMLA, a disability can involve anything from pregnancy and serious illness to injuries, impairments and physical or mental conditions that require a number of treatments and absences from work. The leave is unpaid, or employers can require the worker to take a paid leave, such as paid vacation time accrued along with the medical leave to cover the time absent from work.

To legally disapprove a medical leave, companies must show that the medical leave would impose undue hardship on the company. The EEOC alleges that a medical leave for breast cancer treatment constitutes a reasonable accommodation and the law requires the employer to accommodate the employee. Also, Dunkin’ Donuts meets the 50 employees requisite for granting medical leaves.

If you have a question about your rights as an employer and whether you must grant a medical leave, you should consult with an experienced employment litigation lawyer.

For decades, Stephen Hans & Associates has provided legal advice and litigation for business owners, helping them with legal compliance and employment disputes.

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What Employers Should Know About Retaliation

Based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)  explains that it is illegal for employers to fire, demote, or otherwise “retaliate” against employees or applicants because they filed a discrimination charge, complained to their employer about job discrimination or participated in an employment discrimination proceeding, such as a lawsuit or investigation. Discrimination law prohibits retaliation in the form of denying hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits and any other term or condition of employment.

A few years ago during the conciliation process, KONE Inc. reached a settlement with the EEOC using mediation. The settlement was for an employee who had filed a complaint of discrimination with the EEOC against the company. A stipulation in the mediation agreement was that KONE would recode the employee’s personnel file, making her eligible for future rehiring. However, KONE failed to do so and listed the employee as ineligible for rehire in the personnel system, which resulted in failure to rehire her on several occasions.

The EEOC sued on behalf of the employee and the court found that KONE had breached the mediation agreement, was in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and required KONE to pay $85,000 in monetary relief.

The court also required KONE to provide workplace training on discrimination and retaliation, keep records of discrimination complaints and provide the EEOC with annual reports.

Understanding discrimination law and what courts consider retaliation is vital for a business owner. Companies must ensure that anti-discrimination policies are in place and that management is following them.

Stephen Hans & Associates has decades of employment litigation experience and works with business owners to help them comply with laws and protect their rights. To avoid costly legal expenses, seek legal help at the first sign of discrimination issues. If you already face a complaint, our firm can help.

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