Articles Posted in Sexual Discrimination

In 2005, the New York City Council amended the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) to make it clear that courts should construe New York City’s anti-discrimination protections more broadly than federal discrimination protections. Under the Local Civil Rights Restoration Act of 2005, the New York City Council alerted courts to their mistaken assumption that interpretations of the NYCHRL should be coextensive with federal and New York State discrimination law. Consequently, courts began construing the NYCHRL much more broadly and in favor of discrimination claimants. Now, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers New York, Connecticut and Vermont) has confirmed that the NYCHRL is broader in its protections and application.
In Mihalik v. Credit Agricole Cheuvreaux North America Inc. (11-3361-cv) (April 26, 2013) , the Second Circuit reversed a grant of summary judgment in favor of the employer on plaintiff’s sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation claims. Specifically, the Second Circuit found that the District Court had applied federal standards in determining whether the employer was liable under the NYCHRL
The court summed up its conclusions as follows:

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Following a two-week trial, a jury returned a verdict finding that the employer had subjected a class of female employees to a sexually hostile work environment. The jury awarded compensatory and punitive damages to the class of employees who had been sexually harassed. The court, however, declined to impose injunctive relief to ensure that the sexual harasser would not be in a position to harass women in the future.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers New York, Connecticut and Vermont, reversed and held that under the circumstances of the case, injunctive relief was necessary to prevent future sexual harassment.
In Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. KarenKim, Inc., 11-3309-cv, the Second Circuit determined that the employer had not adopted adequate measures to ensure that the sexual harassment would not recur. The court noted that the sexual harasser and owner of KarenKim were involved in a romantic relationship, which meant that he might still have access to the employees even if he were no longer technically employed as a supervisor. In addition, the court noted that the complaint procedure adopted by KarenKim to prevent future sexual harassment following the lawsuit was ineffective in that it required that complaints be made in writing and within 30 days of the alleged harassment in order to be acted upon. This coupled with the fact that the initial sexual harassment went unchecked for years prompted the Second Circuit to order the New York federal district court to impose the injunctive relief requested by the EEOC.

Despite that employers have become increasingly more aware of blatant employment discrimination in the workplace, pregnancy discrimination continues to thrive. The Huffington Post recently posted an article discussing several pregnancy discrimination cases recently filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). It appears that pregnancy discrimination has become an enforcement priority for the EEOC, which will likely be filing additional cases in the near future.

Middle School Principal Katherine Mulderig filed a sexual discrimination complaint in March 2011 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging that Lake Placid, New York School Superintendant, Dr. Randy Richards, made sexually discriminatory comments to her while proposing a job change. Ms. Mulderig plans to file a civil action in federal court in early 2012, based upon the sexual discrimination allegations asserted in her EEOC Charge of Discrimination. According to press reports, Mr. Richards told Ms. Mulderig in February 2011 that he wanted her to switch from middle school principal to elementary school principal because he wanted someone “bitchier to govern the bitchy” female teachers in the school. See Principal Files Discrimination Complaint.

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.

In Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Bloomberg L.P., No. 07 Civ. 8383 (S.D.N.Y. August 16, 2011), Judge Loretta Preska of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, dismissed a claim asserted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on behalf of 78 claimants alleging that Bloomberg L.P. engaged in a “pattern or practice” of discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and sex. Judge Preska found insufficient evidence to support the EEOC’s position that Bloomberg L.P.’s standard operating procedure included pregnancy discrimination.

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The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York recently filed a civil rights action against the Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District, located in Westchester County, New York. The action alleges that the school district discriminated against an employee because of pregnancy.
The employee alleged that when she became pregnant with her first child, she lost her position as chairperson of the Committee on Special Education. She alleges also that she was denied the position when she became pregnant with her second child.

Yesterday, six current and former employees filed a lawsuit against Citigroup in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleging that the company paid women employees less than male employees. In addition, the lawsuit claims that Citigroup is more apt to lay off qualified women instead of less-qualified men. The sexual discrimination claims raised in the lawsuit are similar to those raised against other financial institutions.

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A lawsuit filed by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on September 30th, in federal court, alleges that Fox News retaliated against reporter Catherine Herridge, who had previously complained of sex and age discrimination at the cable news network.

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An administrative complaint was filed against Tyson Fresh Meats (“Tyson”) this week, a subsidiary of Tyson Foods Inc. The complaint alleges systemic discrimination against women in Tyson’s Illinois plant. The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) is empowered to assert the complaint based upon Executive Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors like Tyson, from discriminating on the basis of sex.

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