Earlier this week, I reported in Murtha Cullina’s Labor and Employment Group News that the Second Circuit, which covers New York, Connecticut and Vermont, clarified that a single racist comment could support a claim for a discriminatory hostile work environment on the basis of race, where the comment constituted a “severe racial slur.” To read the full article, simply click on the following link: A Single Racist Comment Can Create a Hostile Work Environment.
A former Long Island, New York police lieutenant was awarded $350,000 in damages by a jury in her lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Sherry Hines was employed by the Village of Hempstead, New York, as a police officer. During her employment, she filed sex and race discrimination complaints. Ultimately, she was passed over for promotions and ultimately demoted to a desk job in retaliation for her complaints.
The Eastern District of New York jury found in her favor after a four day trial, which concluded on October 6, 2011.
Today, Governor David Patterson signed into law, the New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which reflects the first sweeping domestic workers’ rights legislation in the nation.
Among other things, the New York law provides for overtime pay to domestic workers, and protection against workplace discrimination and harassment based upon race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, marital status and domestic victim status. The legislation specifically addresses sexual harassment, which is cited as a major problem for domestic workers in New York.
The plaintiff, Diane Gorzynski, brought forth claims alleging hostile work enviornment, age and sex discrimination, as well as retaliation for complaints of race and age discrimination, against JetBlue, her employer. Gorzynski v. JetBlue Airways, Corp. (February 19, 2010).
On January 6, 2010, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released data concerning charges of discrimination filed with the agency in FY2009. The EEOC resolved a record number of charges alleging harassment and violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. FY2009 saw the second highest number of charge filings nationwide, 93,277 –just about 2,000 filings less than the record high set for FY2008.
In Ricci v. DeStefano, (No. 07-1428), a long awaited decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the City of New Haven violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it discarded the results of civil service examiinations in which African American and Latino firefighters seeking promotion to lieutenant and captain did not fare well. White firefighters had alleged that they had suffered race discrimination when the City discarded their favorable examination results.
The Associated Press reported today that New York’s Hawaiian Tropic Zone restaurant sought to dismiss a race discrimination lawsuit filed by Melody Morales of Brooklyn, New York. Ms. Morales claims that when she tried to get a job as a bikini-clad barmaid, she was told that she did not speak “white” and her language was too “ghetto.”
A recent study has concluded that racial discrimination is 38% worse in the advertising industry than in the overall labor market. In light of the fact that the advertising industry is traditionally perceived to be based in New York City, cases against advertising agencies alleging racial discrimination will undoubtedly increase in New York state and federal courts.
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.