Hernandez v. Kaisman, No. 104989/07 (1st Dep’t Dec. 27, 2012): A group of female plaintiffs alleged that the defendant, a doctor who owned and operated a medical office, created a sexually hostile work environment in violation of the New York State Human Rights Law (the State Law) and the New York City Human Rights Law (the City Law). Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that the defendant sent them, as well as other male and female employees, a series of offensive emails, and made various sexually suggestive comments and gestures toward them, including remarks regarding their breast size. The lower court granted the defendant’s summary judgment motion, holding that the defendant’s conduct could be considered equally offensive to male and female employees. On appeal, the First Department appellate court held that a jury could reasonably determine that the defendant sent the emails to provoke a reaction from women in the office, and that the plaintiffs were singled out from the male employees. Under the State Law, the court held that the plaintiffs’ evidence fell short of meeting the severe and pervasive standard required to state a claim. Under the City Law, however, questions of severity and pervasiveness are irrelevant to a determination of liability. The court thus found that the plaintiffs’ claim survived summary judgment because the comments and emails objectifying women’s bodies and exposing them to sexual ridicule, even if “isolated,” signaled that the defendant considered it appropriate to foster an office environment that degraded women. The court therefore reinstated the plaintiffs’ claim under the City Law. This decision demonstrates that courts will continue to analyze claims under the City Law separately and more liberally than claims brought under analogous state and federal laws.
Third Circuit Confirms Individual Supervisor Liability Under the FMLA for Both Public and Private Employers
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has, for the first time, confirmed that private and public sector supervisors can be held individually liable under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Haybarger v. Lawrence County Adult Prob. & Parole, No. 10-3916, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 1776 (3d Cir., Jan. 31, 2012). Based upon the plain language of the FMLA, it had been well-settled (just not yet by the Third Circuit) that individual liability exists under the FMLA for private sector supervisors.
Minnesota Legislative Update, Part III: Regular Session Winds Down With Many Bills Left in the Hopper
As the 2019 regular session of the Minnesota Legislature draws to a close, lawmakers in St. Paul are deadlocked on the budget bill. As a result, many of the bills we reported on in our previous articles are stalled in committee or unlikely to see final action this year. The legislature must end its regular session on Monday, May 20, 2019, and it’s unclear whether there will be a special session.
Under current National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) law, employees do not have a statutory right to use their employers’ email systems for union organizing or for other purposes. Email systems remain employer property for now, as the Board, in Purple Communications, Inc., 361 NLRB No. 43 (2014), declined the NLRB’s…..