Introduced and passed, 402 to 17, in the House of Representatives, the ADA Amendment Act of 2008 is geared to the restoration of the intent and protections of the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Operating from the position that “physical and mental disabilities in no way diminish a person’s right to fully participate in all aspects of society,” Congress passed the ADA with the intent to broadly eliminate “prejudice, antiquated attitudes, [and] the failure to remove societal and institutional barriers” that have frequently precluded persons with disabilities from fully engaging in society. Plainly put, the ADA Amendment Act will restore protections against disability discrimination to a broader range of individuals.
Many executive employment agreements provide that an executive can only be terminated “for cause.” In addition, those agreements sometimes provide that the executive can terminate the employment relationship for “good reason.” A resignation for “good reason” results in it being treated as a termination without cause by the employer. This is significant, because the employee will then be entitled to damages, i.e., whatever the employee would have received under the agreement had he or she either remained employed or terminated without cause.
Federal civil rights are useless if they cannot be enforced. Recently, in CBOCS West, Inc. v. Humphries, most of the Supreme Court agreed ruling that employees could bring retaliation claims against their employers under The Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C § 1981 (“Section 1981”). What brings controversy to this decision is that the text of Section 1981 does not state that it includes claims of retaliation for employee complaints of race discrimination.
Mauricia Grant, a former employee of NASCAR, filed suit alleging 23 specific instances of sexual harassment, as well as 34 instances of racial and sexual discrimination.
According to Grant, she complained to her supervisors of the discriminatory treatment on multiple occasions, but her complaints were ignored. She alleges in her complaint that her supervisor even participated in the discriminatory conduct. At a press conference, Brian France, NASCAR’s CEO, faulted Grant for allegedly not following internal harassment complaint procedures.
The civil action seeks $225 million in damages.
Navigating the different statutes applicable to employment discrimination can be daunting. Prior to meeting with an attorney, you can familiarize yourself with the laws that may apply to your situation. Of course, you should consult an attorney regarding your own individual situation.
The New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”) applies to employers with four or more employees. Under certain circumstances, individual supervisors may also be sued under the NYSHRL.
The NYSHRL prohibits discrimination based on age, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, genetic predisposition or carrier status, marital status, and previous arrest record. The NYSHRL also prohibits retaliation for making good faith complaints of employment discrimination.
On June 10, 2008, the New York State Court of Appeals resolved an issue over which lower New York courts were divided. According to New York’s highest court, individuals who serve in executive or “white collar” capacities are entitled to protection under some of the wage provisions of New York’s Labor Law. The case, Pachter v. Bernard Hodes Group, Inc., is of particular interest to us, because our firm represented the executive.
Prior to the Court’s decision in Pachter many lower courts were divided on whether the Labor Law covered so-called white collar workers. Many courts had held incorrectly that only manual workers and those making less than $600 a week were protected by the Labor Law. The Court in Pachter recognized that, in fact, white collar employees were protected against unlawful deductions to compensation, and were also protected against pay discrimination on the basis of sex.