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.
The Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA) is the state of Missouri’s primary anti-discrimination statute. The MHRA codifies for the state many of the federal anti-discrimination provisions found in the Americans with Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On May 8, 2017, the Missouri House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 43 (SB 43). The bill, which significantly modifies the MHRA and also codifies and limits workplace “whistleblower” liability, is now on the desk of newly-elected Governor Eric Greitens, who is expected to sign the legislation.
U.S. and International Employers: Now Is the Time to Reaffirm Your Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
No doubt walking a difficult line in the wake of the election results, human resources professionals are tasked with cementing their companies’ position as equal opportunity employers. At the same time, some female employees, employees with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, employees from different countries, and non-U.S. citizens working for U.S.-headquartered companies are feeling intimidated by news reports of hostility in the workplace. Some employees feel silenced and are afraid to take advantage of internal complaint procedures, decreasing the prospect for internal resolution.
Serrano v. Underground Utilities Corp., 2009 WL 1395418 (App. Div., May 20, 2009) – In this class action suit seeking unpaid overtime compensation, prevailing wages and supplemental benefits under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the New Jersey Prevailing Wage Act, the plaintiffs sought a protective order barring discovery inquiries into their immigration status.