Tag Archives: wrongful termination

Lowe’s Settles for $8.6 M for Wrongful Termination Claims

Being let go from your job almost never seems like a fair scenario. Now, consider being let go from your job while being out from work on a medical leave due to a disability. Sound unfair? Maybe even illegal? Recently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) argued this may actually be the case for former Lowe’s employees. Workers were let go after using up all their medical leave time and not being granted additional time off when they weren’t yet well enough to return to their posts. According to the American with Disabilities Act, the EEOC argues that these workers should not have been subject to a wrongful termination but rather been granted an accommodation by way of additional time off.

If Lowe’s, one of the nation’s largest home improvement retailers, can make this alleged mistake, the layoff you may have experienced may not be legal either. This sort of wrongful termination cost Lowe’s big as they had to resolve the dispute by paying $8.6 million to eligible ex-employees who were allegedly unlawfully discharged for this reason. The other portion of the resolution called for Lowe’s employment practices to be in complete compliance with federal law. Company policy and procedures would have to be accepting of requests for reasonable accommodation in regards to extra time off when a worker ending their medical leave is unable to return to work. Lowe’s will also have to establish improved record keeping methods in regards to requests for medical leaves as well as extensions to leaves.

Losing your job can be a stressful experience. If you or anyone you know has been terminated from their job while on a medical leave, please call an employment lawyer. The employment attorneys at Fitapelli & Schaffer have experience handling cases of wrongful termination due to all kinds of discrimination. Please call for a free phone consultation at (212) 300-0375 or visit our website for more information www.fslawfirm.com.

Yet Another Discrimination Lawsuit for Cushman & Wakefield

The leading global real estate services firm, Cushman & Wakefield, is facing its third gender and age discrimination lawsuit since 2013. Most recently involving 47-year-old Hongmei “Janice”Li who alleges she was discriminated against and fired due to her race, age, and sex. In her discrimination lawsuit she is seeking compensation for back pay, front pay, and damages for “emotional distress” amounting to more than $4 million.

In this case, Li, of Chinese origin, claims she was demoted, then wrongfully terminated and replaced by a 39-year-old white English male with “less knowledge, tenure, and relevant experience” as noted in her complaint. Cushman informed her that she was “too senior” for the position. Li was also subjected to racist remarks about her Chinese origin as well as being made fun of due to her accent.

Lawsuits of this nature are no stranger to Cushman & Wakefield and as the plaintiff claims, they have “become infamous for discriminating in employment against women, older people and minorities.” In 2013, former COO Suzy Reingold filed a discrimination lawsuit alleging she was passed over for a promotion on the basis of gender and age. In 2015, Maria Sicola, another executive filed a $40 million discrimination lawsuit claiming she was pushed out and replaced by a 39-year old male with little to no management experience.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing discrimination or harassment in the workplace that ultimately resulted in a wrongful termination, give the employment lawyers at Fitapelli & Schaffer a call at 212-300-0375 for a free phone consultation or visit our website at www.fslawfirm.com. You’ll have the opportunity to speak with one of our experienced attorneys and address your issues and concerns.

Alexander McQueen : High Fashion or High Risk of Discrimination?

The well known luxury brand, Alexander McQueen, has been hit yet again with another discrimination lawsuit. This time, two African American inventory workers for the company allege that the Alexander McQueen flagship store in New York City has consistently displayed unjust treatment and made systematic racist remarks. Christopher Policard and Duane Davis both feel they were continuously discriminated against and note being falsely accused of theft and searched as one of the many instances where their race was targeted working for the company. Unfortunately racism still continues to plague the workplace and may even leave an individual victim to a wrongful termination.

In this lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that African American workers are not given the opportunity to work or be seen on the sales floor. Policard and Davis claim that the only time African American workers are on the sales floor is when they are searched after being accused of theft so as to humiliate them in front of coworkers and customers. They further note that if a white worker is accused of theft, they are searched off the sales floor and after hours. When they tried to bring up these discrepancies in treatment with management they were scoffed at, and turned away.

The lawsuit was officially filed against in Bronx Supreme Court against Alexander McQueen, the parent company Kering Americas, and four managers. One of these managers was included in one of the several previous lawsuits for discrimination in which they made racist comments to a security guard working at their Meatpacking location. Back in 2013, there was another lawsuit filed on behalf of a Hispanic saleswoman who was a victim of a barrage of racist remarks and wrongful termination. The plaintiffs in this situation are seeking undisclosed damages.

Facing discrimination is always difficult but when it is experienced in the workplace, navigating complex state and federal laws can be especially tricky. If you or a loved one is facing discrimination or a wrongful termination in the workplace give our firm a call at 212-300-0375 and speak to one of our experienced attorneys for a free phone consultation. They will be able to help sort through the facts and discuss your situation.

Alcoholism: Wrongful Termination of a Protected Class

The former coach of the University of South Carolina’s Trojans, Steve Sarkisian, has filed a lawsuit for wrongful termination against USC for allegedly firing him unlawfully for an alcohol disability. In this lawsuit, Sarkisian is asking for more than $30,000,000 after claiming to be a victim of wrongful termination. He was terminated via email whilst on a leave of absence from the university. Alcoholism, considered by many courts to be a disability should not make anyone a target for discrimination. Sarkisian claims to have emerged from rehab ready and able to return to work.

What are Protected Classes?

It is unfortunate to note that in many states workers are considered at-will employees and can consequently be fired for almost any reason or no reason at all. However, there is something called a protected class that impedes employers from firing its workers due to certain characteristics they possess. The characteristics of a protected class can include, race, religion, gender, national origin, age, pregnancy and disability. Individual states can also add other protected classes.  Although Sarkisian’s case was filed in California, New York City has similar laws protecting those suffering from alcoholism or substance addiction from wrongful termination.

What can be done?

If you qualify as having a disability, it is unlawful for an employer to take any adverse employment action against you based solely on your disability, especially if the result is a wrongful termination. In fact, an employer is obligated to provide you with a “reasonable accommodation”, upon your request, to assist you in the performance of your employment responsibilities. If you are unsure whether you qualify as having a “disability”, or if your employer has taken an adverse action against you or failed to provide you with a reasonable accommodation, we advise you to contact our wrongful termination attorneys.

Employers in New York City Cannot Request Your Credit Report

In order to have a claim for wrongful termination in New York, individuals and/or employees must have been discriminated based on one of the protected classes under the New York State or New York City Human Rights Laws.  The protected classes include, but are not limited to:  age, race, color, religion/creed, national origin, gender, disability, and pregnancy.  However, effective September 3, 2015, wrongful termination claims in New York City include claims based on an individual’s credit report or history.  The “Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act” (“SCDEA”) prohibits employers, labor organizations, and employment agencies to request or use the consumer credit history of an applicant or employee for the purpose of making any employment decisions, including, hiring, compensation, and other terms and conditions of employment.  In addition to the other remedies – back and front pay, and compensatory and punitive damages – available to individuals who successfully prevail on claims under the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”), the SCDEA imposes civil penalties up to $250,000 for violations that are the result of willful, wanton or malicious conduct.  The amount of the civil penalty depends on the severity of the violation, the existence of subsequent violations, the employer’s size (both revenue and the number of employees), and the employer’s actual or constructive knowledge of the SCDEA.

The use of credit reports for employment purposes has had a disproportionately negative effect on “unemployed people, low income communities, communities of color, women, domestic violence survivors, families with children, divorced individuals, and those with student loans and/or medical bills.”  However, studies have shown that there is no correlation between an individual’s credit history and their job performance.  The SCDEA makes the following acts by an employer a violation of the NYCHRL and potential wrongful termination:  requesting consumer credit history from job applicants or potential or current employees, either orally or in writing; requesting or obtaining consumer credit history of a job applicant or potential or current employee from a consumer reporting agency; and using consumer credit history in an employment decision or when considering an employment action.  An employer has violated the NYCHRL even if your credit history does not lead to any adverse employment action (i.e., being terminated).  However, any adverse action taken will be considered when determining damages or penalties.  The SCDEA does provide a list of position where employers may obtain that individual’s credit report, however, these exemptions are construed narrowly and the employer bears the burden of proof that the individual falls within one of the eight categories.  Examples of positions that may be “exempt” are:  positions that are required to register with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”); police officers, peace officers, or positions with a law enforcement or investigative function at the Department of Investigation; and certain positions with the City of New York.

The employment lawyers at Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP are strongly committed to protecting the rights of hard working employees.  If you feel you were subject to wrongful termination in New York, please call us at (212) 300-0375 to schedule a free consultation.  You can also visit our website (www.fslawfirm.com).