Blog – Working Now and Then Working Now And Then 2020-02-19T20:42:36Z https://www.workingnowandthen.com/feed/atom/ WordPress admin http://workingnowandthen.com <![CDATA[Sexual Harassment Settlements Increase in 2019]]> https://www.workingnowandthen.com/blog// 2020-02-03T17:14:08Z 2020-02-03T17:14:08Z Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D In the past two years, the EEOC has seen a 50% increase in monetary benefits recovered in sexual harassment claims. In January 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released statistics on sexual harassment allegations in 2019. Although the total number of allegations decreased slightly from 2018 to 2019, the monetary benefits... View Article

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Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D

In the past two years, the EEOC has seen a 50% increase in monetary benefits recovered in sexual harassment claims.

In January 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released statistics on sexual harassment allegations in 2019. Although the total number of allegations decreased slightly from 2018 to 2019, the monetary benefits recovered by the EEOC set a new record.

In 2019, the EEOC recovered $68.2 million in monetary benefits for victims of sexual harassment. This represents a significant increase over the $56.6 million recovered in 2018. The EEOC data does not include sexual harassment settlements obtained through litigation.

From 2010-2017, the monetary recoveries from EEOC sexual harassment allegations remained generally steady. In 2010, the EEOC recovered $41.2 million from sexual harassment allegations. That number dropped to $35 million by 2014 before rebounding to $46.3 million in 2017.

Since 2017, the amount recovered by the EEOC has increased by nearly $22 million. This represents an almost 50% increase in two years. 

EEOC Sexual harassment results

The EEOC data only reports money recovered during the EEOC process, while excluding money obtained through litigation. As a result, the total damages paid to victims of sexual harassment who file through the EEOC are higher than the $68.2 million reported for 2019. In 2018, for example, the EEOC recovered nearly $70 million for victims of sexual harassment through administrative enforcement and litigation.

The increase in monetary recoveries occurred while the total number of sexual harassment claims decreased. In 2018, the EEOC received 13,055 allegations of sexual harassment, while in 2019 the EEOC received 12,739 allegations.

The EEOC accepts complaints through its website, by mail or by phone. You can also file a complaint in person at an EEOC office or a state or local Fair Employment Practice Agency.

After accepting a complaint, the EEOC conducts an investigation. As part of the process, the employee and employer may work with an EEOC mediator to enforce the law and reach an agreement. If the investigation uncovers a legal violation, the EEOC will pursue a settlement with the employer. The settlement can include compensatory and punitive damages.

However, in addition to the administrative enforcement mechanisms of the EEOC, victims of sexual harassment can also file a lawsuit. If the EEOC investigation takes more than 180 days or cannot determine whether the employer violated the law, victims can file a lawsuit. 

An employment lawyer can help victims of sexual harassment file an EEOC complaint and navigate the process. 

Learn more about how to file an EEOC complaint or contact NYC employment attorney Charles Joseph for a free consultation about your sexual harassment case.

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admin http://workingnowandthen.com <![CDATA[The #MeToo Movement And Workers’ Rights]]> https://www.workingnowandthen.com/blog// 2019-12-20T18:27:27Z 2019-12-20T18:27:27Z By Ainsley Brown Winner of the Working Now and Then Undergraduate Scholarship The social movement #MeToo has taken over the internet and media by storm. In October 2017, the #MeToo invited women and men to share detailed and horrifying stories of sexual harassment and assault that they experienced in various places and settings, including in... View Article

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By Ainsley Brown

Winner of the Working Now and Then Undergraduate Scholarship

The social movement #MeToo has taken over the internet and media by storm. In October 2017, the #MeToo invited women and men to share detailed and horrifying stories of sexual harassment and assault that they experienced in various places and settings, including in their workplaces. Many of the stories relayed on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook under the hashtag #MeToo were stories from women depicting their experiences with sexual harassment and assault from many of their male colleagues in the workplace. 

The #MeToo movement’s impact will be everlasting, especially when it comes to the treatment of women and men in the workplace. These stories brought up many questions surrounding the treatment of women in the workplace by their mostly male counterparts and co-workers, and it has since called into question the actions of many males in the workplace.

Some of the many high power men who have been called out and accused of sexual harassment in the workplace include producer Harvey Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey, NBC personality Matt Lauer, comedian Louis C.K., president, chairman and chief executive of CBS Corporation Leslie Moonves, and unfortunately many more, and those are just some of the higher profile people who have been accused. 

And it is not only women who have been the victims of workplace harassment. Many men have been subjected to it as well. Recently, Cristina Garcia, a California state assemblywoman was removed from committee posts amid sexual harassment accusations from a former legislative staff member. Another woman, Andrea Ramsey, a candidate for a U.S. House seat in Kansas, was forced to end her campaign after she was accused of sexually harassing, and then firing, a former subordinate. Additionally, Congresswoman Katie Hill from California was recently forced to resign over allegations of a sexual relationship with a staffer and other workplace harassment allegations.

Sexual abuse and harassment represent one of the biggest issues facing current workers and future workers. Even with the rise of the #MeToo movement and the message that sexual harassment in the workplace should no longer be accepted, sexual harassment and abuse remains a major problem across the country. 

Workplace sexual harassment reveals the problems in our society. For decades, it has been socially acceptable for male bosses to harass their female subordinates. Women have long been told not to say something, leaving them too afraid to speak up and bring their accusations and stories to the police or to their company’s HR departments for fear that they may lose their careers and their futures. 

However, the #MeToo movement has made reporting sexual assault less of a taboo. In fact, it has made sexual harassment in the workplace less acceptable and has encouraged more and more women and men to step forward with their stories of workplace harrassment. As a result, acceptance in society for this sort of behavior in the workplace has changed dramatically. Unfortunately, many people remain stuck with old fashioned views of society and how women should be treated by the men who are “in charge” of them.

Although it may seem impossible to fully resolve the challenge of sexual harassment in the workplace, the problem as a whole stems from the fact that many people have been raised to think that this type of behavior is something that is acceptable. Sexual harassment has been deemed a way for people in high power positions to assert their dominance and power over their subordinates. 

Because of the nature of the problem and the way it is perceived by society, the best way to tackle this issue is by raising our sons and daughters to not accept or be a part of treatment like this in the workplace or in general. We can change the culture by teaching children to speak out if they are ever victims of sexual harassment or if they witness such treatment. All in all, one of the biggest issues facing workers now, and in the future, no matter how much the current movement has helped to lessen it, still remains sexual harassment of women and men by their male or female superiors.

Reflections from Charles Joseph

Ainsley Brown makes an important point about workplace sexual harassment––while we generally see women as the victims of sexual harassment and men as the perpetrators, anyone can experience sexual harassment in the workplace and anyone can sexually harass their coworkers. As Brown argues, the #MeToo movement increased public awareness of the harm caused by sexual harassment. The law provides workplace sexual harassment and hostile work environment protections, but unfortunately, the problem persists. If you experience sexual harassment in the workplace, check out our advice on proving workplace sexual harassment or contact an employment lawyer for a consultation.

Ainsley Brown attends George Walton Comprehensive High School in Marietta, Georgia.  She is the editor-in-chief of the Walton yearbook and balances school with a part-time job and numerous volunteering responsibilities. Brown plans to pursue a career as a lawyer after college.

Charles Joseph has over two decades of experience in employment law. He is the founder of Working Now and Then and the founding partner of Joseph and Kirschenbaum, a firm that has recovered over $120 million for clients.

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admin http://workingnowandthen.com <![CDATA[Working Now and Then Announces Winner of Undergraduate Scholarship]]> https://www.workingnowandthen.com/blog// 2019-12-17T18:30:45Z 2019-12-17T18:30:45Z Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D. As the cost of college continues to rise, many students struggle to cover the cost of tuition and other expenses. For undergraduates planning to attend law school, this can often mean taking out loans for their bachelor’s degree and their law degree. In response, Working Now and Then began offering the Working... View Article

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Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.

As the cost of college continues to rise, many students struggle to cover the cost of tuition and other expenses. For undergraduates planning to attend law school, this can often mean taking out loans for their bachelor’s degree and their law degree.

In response, Working Now and Then began offering the Working Now and Then Undergraduate Scholarship in 2019. The $1,000 scholarship supports a promising undergraduate student considering a career as a lawyer. 

The 2019 Working Now and Then Undergraduate Scholarship will go to Ainsley Brown of Marietta, Georgia. Brown currently attends George Walton Comprehensive High School, one of the top-ranked high schools in the country. Brown’s record of academic excellence and her interest in workers’ rights make her an exceptional candidate for the scholarship.

“I am immensely grateful to have received the Working Now and Then Undergraduate Scholarship,” Brown says. “I have always had a passion for helping people and fighting for what is right, and this scholarship will hopefully help me embark on a career path in which I can continue to do just that.”

Since her sophomore year, Brown has balanced school with a part-time job and numerous volunteering responsibilities. In her senior year, Brown took over as editor-in-chief for the Walton yearbook.

Brown plans to pursue a career as a lawyer after college. In her scholarship essay, Brown wrote about the impact of the #MeToo movement on workplace rights. The essay will be featured on the Working Now and Then blog.

Working Now and Then added a scholarship for undergraduates based on the success of the Charles E. Joseph Employment Law Scholarship

In spring 2019, the employment law scholarship awarded $1,000 to Stanford Law student Hannah Begley. “I am extremely grateful to have received the Charles E. Joseph Employment Law Scholarship,” said Begley. “It helped turn my dream of fighting for the rights of low-income workers into a reality.”

The Charles E. Joseph Employment Law Scholarship will award another $1,000 scholarship to a current or admitted law student in May 2020. 

For more information, see the Working Now and Then Undergraduate Scholarship page or visit Working Now and Then.

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admin http://workingnowandthen.com <![CDATA[CNN’s New Rules For Freelancers May Violate The Freelance Isn’t Free Act]]> https://www.workingnowandthen.com/blog// 2019-10-28T20:20:10Z 2019-10-28T20:19:07Z Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D. In May 2019, CNN announced that their freelancers must wait at least 90 days to receive payment for their work. Under the new “Net 90” plan, freelancers working for CNN will file an invoice and receive payment 90 days later. In New York City, this policy may violate the Freelance Isn’t Free... View Article

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Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.

In May 2019, CNN announced that their freelancers must wait at least 90 days to receive payment for their work. Under the new “Net 90” plan, freelancers working for CNN will file an invoice and receive payment 90 days later. In New York City, this policy may violate the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which guarantees timely payment for freelancers.

WarnerMedia Vice President Brad Ingram informed freelancers of the change in a memo. “We understand that the change in standard payment terms could impact your business,” Ingram wrote, “However, we are making this change to be better aligned with our corporate requirements.”

Under the new policy, freelancers will receive payment 90 days after sending an invoice.

Caitlin Pierce, executive director of Freelancers Union, says “Net 90 is NOT a reasonable payment term for people who must pay rent every 30 days.” Pierce adds, “CNN is effectively asking freelancers to finance the cash flow of a multi-billion dollar company by waiting one quarter of a year for payment.”

The policy goes against the stated goal of New York City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act. The Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which went into effect on May 15, 2017, sets a 30-day payment standard for freelancers. According to the Act, if a contract does not include a payment date, clients must pay freelancers within 30 days of completing the contracted services. However, CNN’s Net 90 policy does not violate the law if freelancers sign a contract including the 90-day payment policy.

In its memo, CNN promised to issue new contracts with the Net 90 language as existing contracts expired. The policy of asking freelancers to sign contracts with extended payment dates is inconsistent with the intention, though not the letter, of the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which provides legal protections for freelancers to receive payment in a timely manner. 

The Freelance Isn’t Free Act covers freelancers who perform $800 or more of work for a client in a four month period. Under the Act, freelancers can receive double damages for underpayment, nonpayment, or late payment. For example, a freelancer owed $5,000 on their contract who did not receive payment by the due date could receive $5,000 in damages, for a total of $10,000.

In the same memo, CNN announced a “process to get paid faster than 90 days” as part of an arrangement with Citi. If this process results in freelancers earning less than the contracted amount, it violates the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which bars clients from offering freelancers less money in exchange for faster payment. 

The Freelance Isn’t Free Act also protects freelancers from acts of retaliation, including refusing to work with freelancers or threatening to blacklist freelancers who complain about not getting paid in a timely manner in violation of the act.

Freelancers who face underpayment, non-payment, or late payment can file a complaint with New York City’s Office of Labor Standards. Freelancers who take their case to court can receive double damages and attorney fees under the Freelance Isn’t Free Act. 

Are you a freelancer for CNN affected by the Net 90 policy? Reach out to employment lawyer Charles Joseph for a free consultation. Charles Joseph founded Working Now and Then and Joseph & Kirschenbaum, which has recovered more than $120 million for clients. 

Learn more about freelancer rights under the Freelance Isn’t Free Act and independent contractor rights in New York City.

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admin http://workingnowandthen.com <![CDATA[How to sue for wrongful termination in an at will state like New York or New Jersey?]]> https://www.workingnowandthen.com/blog// 2019-09-12T16:32:13Z 2019-09-12T16:32:13Z By Charles Joseph   Can you sue for wrongful termination in an at will state? If you’ve been fired, you may wonder whether you can file a lawsuit. In this blog post, I’ll explain how to sue for wrongful termination, even if you live in an at will state such as New York or New... View Article

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By Charles Joseph

 

Can you sue for wrongful termination in an at will state? If you’ve been fired, you may wonder whether you can file a lawsuit. In this blog post, I’ll explain how to sue for wrongful termination, even if you live in an at will state such as New York or New Jersey.

What’s an at will state? In “at will employment” states, employers can fire employees without demonstrating a “just cause.” That means you can be fired for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all. 

However, even in at will states, employers cannot fire you for illegal reasons. If you’ve been fired for an illegal reason, you can sue for wrongful termination.

Let’s start with the legal definition of wrongful termination. First, employees only have a claim for wrongful termination if they’ve been fired for an illegal reason. Many assume that in an at will state, where employers can fire employees without just cause, it’s not possible to sue for wrongful termination. However, even in at will states, employers must follow employment laws. These laws offer protections from discrimination and retaliation. 

In practice, that means your employer cannot fire you for any illegal reason. Take, for example, workplace discrimination laws. You can’t be fired because of your race, gender, religion, disability status, age, or any other protected category. That means if your company let you go because you’re close to retirement age, you may have a wrongful termination case under age discrimination laws. Similarly, if you were fired because you got pregnant, you have protections under pregnancy discrimination laws

Many state laws, including in New York and New Jersey, provide even stronger workplace discrimination protections. For example, New York laws protect employees from firing because of their caregiver status or marital status. State laws also protect employees from wrongful termination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In addition to discriminatory firings, employers cannot fire someone as a form of retaliation. For example, if you recently took leave under FMLA or NYSPFL, your employer cannot fire you for using your leave after you return to work. Similarly, employers cannot fire someone for requesting parental leave or medical leave.

Retaliation protections also cover employees who complain about discrimination or harassment. Take, for instance, an employee who files a complaint with HR about sexual harassment. A week later, her company fires her. Retaliation laws protect her from wrongful termination, meaning she can file a lawsuit against her employer. 

These retaliation protections also cover employees who complain about wage theft, act as a whistleblower in certain circumstances, or complain about being denied medical leave.

Many employees incorrectly assume that you can’t sue for wrongful termination in an at will state. However, if you’ve faced termination for an illegal reason, including discrimination or retaliation, you may have a lawsuit.

The statute of limitation varies on wrongful termination protections. In some instances, for example, the statute of limitations may be as short as 30 days, depending on the type of case. As a result, it’s critical to reach out to an employment lawyer as soon as possible. Most employment lawyers offer a free consultation to discuss your wrongful termination lawsuit. 

For more information, visit our FAQ on wrongful termination.

 

Charles Joseph has over two decades of experience in employment law and wrongful termination. He is the founder of Working Now and Then and the founding partner of Joseph and Kirschenbaum, a firm that has recovered over $120 million for clients.

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admin http://workingnowandthen.com <![CDATA[What New Jersey’s Powerful Anti-Wage Theft Law Means For Workers]]> https://www.workingnowandthen.com/blog// 2019-08-30T16:34:11Z 2019-08-28T21:37:32Z by Charles Joseph On August 6, 2019, New Jersey’s acting governor signed S1790 into law. The act includes stricter penalties for not paying wages and stronger protections for workers. What does the anti-wage theft law changes mean for workers in New Jersey? Wage theft, including minimum wage and overtime violations, costs American workers billions of... View Article

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by Charles Joseph

On August 6, 2019, New Jersey’s acting governor signed S1790 into law. The act includes stricter penalties for not paying wages and stronger protections for workers. What does the anti-wage theft law changes mean for workers in New Jersey?

Wage theft, including minimum wage and overtime violations, costs American workers billions of dollars each year. Low-wage workers alone lose an estimated $50 billion a year because of wage theft. In 2015-2016, the U.S. Department of Labor, states, and class action suits recovered a total of more than $2 billion in stolen wages, representing just a fraction of all unpaid wages. 

Stronger legislation, like New Jersey’s anti-wage theft law, means workers recover more of their unpaid wages. Acting Governor Sheila Oliver, who signed the bill into law, said, “We must ensure that every hardworking individual in New Jersey receives the wages they worked hard to earn.” 

New Jersey’s anti-wage theft law includes some of the strongest protections in the country. Victims of wage theft can now recover all the unpaid wages plus liquidated damages equivalent to 200% of the unpaid wages. The act also covers wages lost because of retaliation and attorney’s fees.

New Jersey workers can now file for wage theft for up to six years, extending the former two year statute of limitations.

The act also includes strong penalties for violators of the state’s Wage Payment Law. Employers who knowingly withhold wages from workers must pay fines of up to $10,000 or face imprisonment of up to 18 months. 

Employers who fail to pay wages within 30 days can also face fines, penalties of 20% of wages owed, and possible imprisonment. The act makes repeat violations of the law, described as a pattern of wage nonpayment, a crime in the third degree.

“Wage theft is immoral, intolerable and yet, far too common,” said Senator Loretta Weinberg. “More often than not, it is those at the lowest rungs of our socioeconomic ladder that are taken advantage of by their employer. It falls on us, therefore, to defend those who don’t generally have the means to defend themselves.” 

Weinberg, a co-sponsor of the bill, explains, “Giving employees greater power and protections is an important step in the path towards everyone earning a living wage.”

“The unscrupulous employers robbing the hard working people of New Jersey of their time and money need to face the consequences of their actions,” said Senator Linda Greenstein, also a co-sponsor of the bill. “When wage theft is apparent, there must be effective laws in place to protect the workers of our state and to punish the employers. Wage theft is a serious crime and it is about time that our laws reflect this.”

New Jersey’s new protections make it easier for workers to recover unpaid wages and create strong incentives for employers to pay their workers. Victims of wage theft can contact an employment lawyer for a free consultation to protect their rights.

The anti-wage theft law will go into effect on November 1, 2019. 

Charles Joseph has over two decades of experience in employment law and wage theft. He is the founder of Working Now and Then and the founding partner of Joseph and Kirschenbaum, a firm that has recovered over $120 million for clients.

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admin http://workingnowandthen.com <![CDATA[Working Now And Then Announces Undergraduate Scholarship]]> https://www.workingnowandthen.com/blog// 2019-08-13T23:02:25Z 2019-08-13T23:02:25Z Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D   Working Now and Then will award an undergraduate scholarship for the first time in December 2019. The Working Now and Then Undergraduate Scholarship will grant $1,000 to an undergraduate considering a career in employment law.  In 2019, Working Now and Then awarded its first scholarship, the Charles E. Joseph Employment Law... View Article

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Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D

 

Working Now and Then will award an undergraduate scholarship for the first time in December 2019. The Working Now and Then Undergraduate Scholarship will grant $1,000 to an undergraduate considering a career in employment law. 

In 2019, Working Now and Then awarded its first scholarship, the Charles E. Joseph Employment Law Scholarship. Named for founder Charles Joseph, the scholarship supports law students planning to work as plaintiffs’ employment lawyers. 

Winner Hannah Begley, a Stanford Law student, says “I am extremely grateful to have received the Charles E. Joseph Employment Law Scholarship. It helped turn my dream of fighting for the rights of low-income workers into a reality.”

Working Now and Then published Begley’s essay, along with several honorable mentions, as part of its Law Students on Workers’ Rights series. After the success of the Charles E. Joseph Employment Law Scholarship, Joseph chose to expand his site’s scholarship opportunities.

“Employment law has been good to me,” Joseph relates, “and I want to encourage others, even in a small way, and let them know I care about what they are doing.” Joseph founded Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLC, a New York firm that fights for workers harmed by illegal employment and wage practices. Since 1997, Joseph & Kirschenbaum has recovered over $120 million for clients. 

The undergraduate scholarship accepts applications from students currently attending or accepted to an accredited college or university. Applicants provide a resume, unofficial transcripts, and a 750-word essay on the biggest challenges facing workers’ rights in the future. 

The scholarship committee, which includes Charles Joseph, will evaluate applicants based on their academic record, future career promise, and the persuasiveness of the essay. As with the Charles E. Joseph Employment Law Scholarship, the winning essay and honorable mentions will be published on the Working Now and Then site. 

The application form will be available on the Working Now and Then site until December 1, 2019. The winner will be notified by December 15, 2019.

For more information, visit Working Now and Then or the Working Now and Then Scholarships page.

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admin http://workingnowandthen.com <![CDATA[Sexual Harassment and the Future of Worker’s Rights]]> https://www.workingnowandthen.com/blog// 2019-08-12T18:11:44Z 2019-07-10T14:00:13Z What does the #MeToo Movement Mean for Employment Rights? By Jordan Kostelyk Law Students on Workers’ Rights Series The Law Students on Workers’ Rights series publishes essays from current and incoming students at some of the top law schools in the country. These essays, submitted for the Charles E. Joseph Employment Law Scholarship, address the... View Article

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What does the #MeToo Movement Mean for Employment Rights?

By Jordan Kostelyk

Law Students on Workers’ Rights Series

The Law Students on Workers’ Rights series publishes essays from current and incoming students at some of the top law schools in the country. These essays, submitted for the Charles E. Joseph Employment Law Scholarship, address the question “What are the biggest challenges facing workers’ rights in the future?”

The biggest future issue I foresee in worker’s rights is sexual harassment. I say this because people are done with hiding such acts. In the past, sexual harassment was something to not be discussed and even victims were often looked down upon. But even now change is occurring and all one has to do is look at famous movements like #MeToo. In this essay I plan to use legal cases as well as my personal experience to argue that sexual harassment represents the biggest future issue in worker’s rights.

In 2012 possibly the largest settlement in U.S. History in a sexual harassment case was reached. The case was Ani Chopourian v. Catholic Healthcare West. Chopourian had filed complaints with the company for two years that one of the surgeons had made sexual comments and touched her inappropriately. These complaints were filed to no avail until she finally went to court. A year earlier another major sexual harassment case had been won, Ashley Alford v. Aaron’s Rents, just like the above case the company did next to nothing to protect her until she was physically attacked by her manager. 

These two cases demonstrate to me that in the past, even if victims did report sexual harassment little was done and it was allowed to go on for years. Now as time is going on it is evident that if the company doesn’t care the courts certainly do care. I believe as people start to see the currently settled cases they will see that there is another avenue for them to find relief for these workplace abuses.

The second part to this is my personal experience. I have only been employed for the past four years and have been sexually harassed at three different jobs. And at two of the jobs I reported the abuse to the companies which was eventually settled. I have had a male supervisor ask me out on a date as well as a male supervisor who talked about marital problems. I have even had a male coworker touch my leg without my consent. However, what held me back from reporting was a fear of being ignored and that my complaints were not important. It was only through help of my mom that some of the sexual harassment was reported. I think that if this has happened to me in such a short period of time is greatly possible that it is happening all over the country. 

Also, if I felt that it was possibly unsafe to discuss such behavior than how many other people also kept things hidden? I firmly believe that it was a blessing that my harassment occurred during recent years. It occurred during a time when it was much safer to report to companies and they looked more seriously upon such behavior. But it is unfortunate for me to say that many people did not report their harassment during such times. And more often than not when they reported things they were told it was not important or that they were making a big deal out of nothing. The scariest part is that a lot of people fear losing their jobs. So the question is whether to report and lose your job or to keep quiet at a seemingly “small” cost?

As this revolution continues in the country and people continue to become braver to report sexual harassment that has occurred in their workplaces, I believe we will see an influx of cases. These are not things that will be recent they will be things that have gone on for years or even years ago but just now are coming to the surface. And that in combination with new occurrences will push cases forward. If workplaces continue to not place priority on sexual harassment or deny the severity then the only place to turn will be the justice system. Although, I see that with these movements companies are becoming more willing to place importance on such complaints it appears to be mostly out of self-preservation.

Which to me signifies that companies will do the least they feel they must to settle a person’s complaints. If you look at the cases with Alford and Chopourian, they were mostly given flowery talk each time they previously complained to their companies. Thus, as these cases demonstrate, sometimes talk is not enough and action is what needs to take place. This is an exciting time for worker’s rights. Previously we saw the fight for women to even be able to hold jobs, with the unspoken message that women should be so grateful to have a job that they should tolerate harassment. Now, we are pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps and looking for justice in unfair situations. We are unwilling to tolerate what shouldn’t be tolerated.

Reflections from Charles Joseph

Jordan Kostelyk brings together case law and her personal experience to ask how the #MeToo movement will shape workers’ rights. As she argues, the increased public attention means employers often take stronger stances against workplace sexual harassment. Similarly, state legislatures across the country have strengthened sexual harassment laws. Most notably, in June 2019, the New York legislature greatly expanded sexual harassment protections, including instituting a new standard for hostile work environments that benefit employees. Education remains an important part of protecting workers from sexual harassment, which is why Working Now and Then created a video with advice on proving workplace sexual harassment.

Jordan Kostelyk graduated from Central Washington University in 2018 with a law and justice major. She joins Seattle University School of Law as part of the class of 2022.

Charles Joseph has over two decades of experience in employment law. He is the founder of Working Now and Then and the founding partner of Joseph and Kirschenbaum, a firm that has recovered over $120 million for clients.

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admin http://workingnowandthen.com <![CDATA[Wage Inequity: The Threat to Workers’ Rights]]> https://www.workingnowandthen.com/blog// 2019-08-09T16:56:07Z 2019-07-03T20:34:10Z How to address the gender wage gap and the racial wage gap By Gabren Webb Law Students on Workers’ Rights Series The Law Students on Workers’ Rights series publishes essays from current and incoming students at some of the top law schools in the country. These essays, submitted for the Charles E. Joseph Employment Law... View Article

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How to address the gender wage gap and the racial wage gap

By Gabren Webb

Law Students on Workers’ Rights Series

The Law Students on Workers’ Rights series publishes essays from current and incoming students at some of the top law schools in the country. These essays, submitted for the Charles E. Joseph Employment Law Scholarship, address the question “What are the biggest challenges facing workers’ rights in the future?”

The notion that there is true equity in the United States of America holds no more validity than a work of ancient Greek mythology. Few misconceptions are as widespread as the belief that this country has taken significant strides towards equity over the past several decades. Admittedly, the confusion is understandable––certain groups of marginalized people are doing better now than they were in the past. However, it is crucial to analyze how these classes of people are progressing not in relation to themselves, but in relation to the other, more privileged classes. When seperate groups are compared, the disparities become incredibly evident.

One persistent and distinct type of inequity is found in employee compensation in the form of wages. The gender wage gap and racial wage gap are two persistent areas of disparity. Women are, on average, paid less than men when working the same job. Similarly, people of color are paid less than their white counterparts. Therefore, I believe that the most significant challenge facing workers’ rights in the future is discrimination leading to lack of equal pay for equal work.

On average, women make just 81.8% of what men do. In fact, women of all major racial groups earn less than men of their same group. A great deal of this gender wage gap can be explained by discrimination in compensation, recruitment, and hiring. Women often face difficulty breaking into male-dominated job markets, and they are generally afforded less opportunity for advancement than their male counterparts. While this gap is troubling, it is worth noting that the gender wage gap has been narrowing, albeit by a decreasing margin, since 1980.

Slightly more alarming is the racial wage gap. While the gender and racial wage gaps are both individually important, it is essential to recognize that their coexistence intensifies their impact. Consequently, the interaction of the effects of the racial and gender wage gaps puts women of color in a particularly unfortunate position. For instance, compared to White men, Black women make 65.3%, and Hispanic women make 61.6% of their earnings. Unlike the gender pay gap, however, the racial pay gap is not narrowing in any meaningful way. For instance, the pay gap between Black women and White men has narrowed by only 9 cents over the past 35 years. For Hispanic women and White men, the gap narrowed by just 5 cents in this same period.

This relatively consistent wage gap is appalling. It is worth noting that some of the racial wage gap can be explained by the fact that lower shares of Blacks and Hispanics have college educations, which lead to higher wages. However, when only analyzing those with bachelor’s degrees or beyond, college-educated Black and Hispanic men earn about 80% of the hourly wages of college-educated White men. Furthermore, college-educated Black and Hispanic women earn only about 70% of the hourly wages of college-educated white men.

For this, there is no more convincing explanation than pure discrimination. Closing the gender and racial wage gaps will require action from individuals, employers, and policymakers. As a Black woman and future lawyer, I hope to one day have the opportunity to play a role in the eradication of discriminatory pay practices. 

I believe that a significant part in this journey will involve bringing awareness to the public. Many are unaware of the magnitude of the disparities that exist when it comes to employee compensation, and understandably so. Wage data are largely kept secret in American society, and considered an inappropriate topic of conversation. Nonetheless, eliminating the gender and racial wage gaps will require an unprecedented level of transparency at the hands of both employers and employees. 

It will therefore require a strengthening of the laws prohibiting wage discrimination. The laws currently in place simply lack the ability to completely eradicate discriminatory pay practices as they are difficult to enforce and to prove violations.

The most detrimental social issues are those that are hiding in plain sight, undetected by many and therefore unchallenged by most. This is why I firmly believe that wage disparity is one of the biggest challenges to workers’ rights: it is essentially invisible, and its revelation requires engaging in uncomfortable conversations. Despite this, there must be a normalization of these sorts of conversations in order to effectively remove wage inequity from the workplace. I hope to eventually become a key player in this movement, and look forward to playing a role in building a more truly equitable America.

Reflections from Charles Joseph

Gabren Webb sheds light on one of the hidden challenges to workers’ rights: wage discrimination. As Webb convincingly argues, wage disparities persist even when comparing people with the same education levels in the same positions. As a result, Webb points to workplace discrimination, particularly gender discrimination and race discrimination, to explain wage disparities. Wage discrimination remains a major problem for workers, though some legal protections, such as New York City’s salary history ban, try to limit wage inequity. Webb correctly points out that we need to both raise awareness and strengthen pay discrimination laws to address the problem.

Gabren Webb graduated from the University of Virginia with majors in economics and psychology. Webb joins New York University School of Law as part of the class of 2022.

Charles Joseph has over two decades of experience in employment law. He is the founder of Working Now and Then and the founding partner of Joseph and Kirschenbaum, a firm that has recovered over $120 million for clients.

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admin http://workingnowandthen.com <![CDATA[What New York’s Sweeping Employment Law Changes Mean For Workers]]> https://www.workingnowandthen.com/blog// 2019-08-09T17:03:16Z 2019-06-28T22:32:40Z by Charles Joseph On June 19, 2019, New York’s state legislature passed sweeping changes to the state’s employment laws. The updates include stronger protections against workplace discrimination and sexual harassment. What do these changes mean for workers in New York? The new law, expected to be signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, significantly strengthens the state’s workplace... View Article

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by Charles Joseph

On June 19, 2019, New York’s state legislature passed sweeping changes to the state’s employment laws. The updates include stronger protections against workplace discrimination and sexual harassment. What do these changes mean for workers in New York?

The new law, expected to be signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, significantly strengthens the state’s workplace protections. The changes dramatically update the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), expanding its legal safeguards and increasing the number of New York workers protected by the law. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousin says, “This legislation works to close loopholes, extend the statute of limitations, and ensure that sexual harassment policies are clear for all employees across the public and private sector.”

The NYSHRL protects workers from discrimination or harassment based on age, gender, race, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, and other protected characteristics. The New York legislature enacted these sweeping changes to eliminate the “significant and unwarranted legal barriers” that stood in the way of workers seeking justice for employer wrongdoing. 

The changes bring the state’s workplace discrimination and sexual harassment laws in line with many of New York City’s protections in the NYCHRL, which remain some of the strongest in the nation. Most critically, the amendments eliminate the so-called “severe or pervasive” standard used by federal discrimination laws. Under the old law, harassment had to reach the level of severe or pervasive to violate the NYSHRL. The new law outlaws harassment that merely subjects employees to “inferior terms, conditions, or privileges of employment” because of their membership in a protected class, adopting New York City’s standard that harassment must go beyond “petty slights or trivial inconveniences.”

But the amended New York State law goes well beyond even the extraordinarily liberal provisions of New York City law, because far more workers will receive protections under the updated NYSHRL. First, while the old discrimination law only covered employers with four or more employees, the new protections apply to all employers (except the federal government), including licensing and employment agencies and labor unions, regardless of the number of employees. This means an individual who employs or contracts with a single worker is considered an “employer” under the law and can be liable under the NYSHRL. A similar expansion was made for victims of sexual harassment in a law enacted last year.

More striking yet, the discrimination laws now apply to workers not classified as employees, including 

  • independent contractors
  • domestic workers
  • consultants 
  • subcontractors 
  • vendors

The discrimination laws also apply to anyone else providing contracted services to an employer. In short, the number of people and situations covered by the new law is vastly larger than previously. 

This change to the NYSHRL protects an expansive group of workers besides traditional employees. Now, courts will hold employers liable for discrimination or sexual harassment if the employer or its agents knew––or should have known––about the discrimination or sexual harassment within the workplace against, not just employees, but nearly all workers. That greatly expands the anti-discrimination protections under the NYSHRL by covering essentially all service providers, rather than just those traditionally classified as employees. 

The state law’s expanded protections for independent contractors and freelancers builds on new legal safeguards enacted over the last few years. In 2017, New York City passed the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which guarantees freelancers timely payment and offers double damages for nonpayment or late payment. In 2018, New York included independent contractors under the umbrella of laws protecting employees from sexual harassment. This year, the amended state law expands protections against employer discriminatory practices to specifically include independent contractors. 

The updated NYSHRL also expands the damages available for victims of sexual harassment and discrimination. Workers who successfully sue their private employers for discrimination or sexual harassment under the NYSHRL can now seek punitive damages and attorney’s fees, neither of which were allowed under the old law. Emotional distress awards are also available. The change will likely mean larger damage awards for victims of workplace harassment.

Also, once a sexual harassment or discrimination claim reaches the court, employers can no longer avoid liability by claiming the victim failed to use the employers’ complaint procedures. Now, victims who did not report harassment in the workplace for fear of retaliation can still protect their rights.

New York’s legislature orders courts to interpret the NYSHRL liberally in favor of the victimized worker. This places more power in the hands of the targets of discrimination and sexual harassment. Similarly, the law instructs courts to narrowly interpret any exemptions to the NYSHRL, further increasing the law’s power to protect workers. 

Under the new law, employers can no longer force employees into mandatory arbitration for discrimination and sexual harassment claims. Similarly, employers cannot force employees into non-disclosure agreements that ban them from speaking about sexual harassment or discrimination. That means victims of sexual harassment and discrimination will get their day in court. 

The updates to New York state’s laws mean stronger protections for workers in multiple ways. Victims of workplace sexual harassment, for example, will have three years to file their with the New York State Division of Human Rights. Discrimination claims, however, still must be filed with the agency within one year of the discriminatory act. Under existing law, workers have three years to file their discrimination and sexual harassment claims in court.

Some of the bill’s stronger employment protections go into effect immediately when Governor Cuomo signs the law, while others take effect 60 days or 180 days after signing. The new law’s expansion of the statute of limitations from one year to three years takes effect one year after signing.

For workers in New York, the employment law changes mean much stronger protections against workplace discrimination and sexual harassment. “With this legislation, employers across all sectors will be held accountable for addressing all forms of sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace,” Senator Alessandra Biaggi says. 

The new NYSHRL will cover many more workers, offering protections for contractors and freelancers who were not previously protected. It also provides stronger enforcement and education mechanisms, including requiring employers to provide a notice of their sexual harassment prevention policies to all employees in their primary language, which they are to receive upon hiring and again during the employer’s annual sexual harassment training. 

When the law takes effect, workers will see immediate benefits from the sweeping new protections. 

Charles Joseph has over two decades of experience in employment law. He is the founder of Working Now and Then and the founding partner of Joseph and Kirschenbaum, a firm that has recovered over $120 million for clients.

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