Employment Law

Employment Law is an area of law that encompasses sexual harassment, discrimination, employment contract and severance package negotiation and litigation, and wrongful termination. The attorneys at Mark Stumer & Associates, P.C. are highly skilled and knowledgeable on all aspects of employment law.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that is prohibited by Federal, New York State, and New York City Laws. It can be as obvious as a physical touching and outright sexually explicit comments or it can take a more discreet form such as offensive staring or seemingly innocent jokes. Our lawyers have prosecuted, as well as defended, many sexual harassment lawsuits and are highly skilled in litigating all types of cases involving the ever changing body of sexual harassment law. With the Supreme Court of the United States recently deciding four major sexual harassment decisions, the law of sexual harassment has been thoroughly reformed. Not only are we fully aware of all the implications of these changes, but we have already successfully litigated cases in court in reliance upon these new changes.

Employees who believe they have been sexually harassed in New York have a great number of avenues of redress. For example, they may file a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights, the New York State Division on Human Rights, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the New York State Supreme Court. The best choice will vary on a case by case basis and will be dependent on a variety of factors, including the number of employees employed by the employer and the latest date of the alleged harassment. In making the proper choice of entity in which to file the complaint, careful attention must be paid to the strict time deadlines that each entity imposes. Play it safe. If you believe that you may have been sexually harassed, give us a call at 212-633-2225 for a free, no-obligation, telephone consultation with one of our qualified employment attorneys.

Despite all the recent changes in sexual harassment law, one thing remains constant, the best way for an employer to avoid liability for sexual harassment is to prevent it from ever occurring. While total prevention may not be possible, there are a number of steps that employers should take towards prevention and towards limiting their potential liability. The first step towards prevention is the dissemination of information through the use of an anti-sexual harassment policy. Given the recent Supreme Court sexual harassment decisions, employers would be wise to implement, distribute, and properly enforce a thorough written anti-sexual harassment policy. This policy should clearly describe the kinds of behavior that may constitute sexual harassment and it should state the names of individuals that an employee can complain to should they feel that they were sexually harassed. The importance of this policy should not be underestimated and although it can be drafted by the employer themselves, given the rapidly evolving body of sexual harassment law we recommend that it be completed or reviewed by a competent law firm experienced in the area of sexual harassment.

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Discrimination

Discrimination in employment refers generally to the taking of any adverse employment action (e.g., refusal to hire, denial of promotion, unfair workload and reprimands, or termination of employment) because of an individual’s statutorily protected status or characteristic (e.g., race, sex, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, or religion) or because of an individual’s protected activity (e.g., helping a coworker who has been the victim of discrimination or “blowing the whistle” on employer misconduct).

When the discrimination occurs within the State of New York, there are many potential avenues for justice. One may file a claim with the New York City Commission on Human Rights, The New York State Supreme Court, The New York State Division of Human Rights or the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The appropriate choice depends on the type of discrimination, the damages being sought, and the number of employees working for the company. Contact Us for more specific advice.

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Wrongful Termination

While not being a recognized cause of action in New York, we use the term to cover terminations that are in some way in violation of Federal or New York State law. For example, New York courts have held that some terminations, while not discriminatory or in breach of a contract may still be actionable as being against public policy. There may be a cause of action for the intentional infliction of emotional distress caused by an abusive or humiliating job termination. Additionally, in certain situations when falsehoods are spread regarding a terminated employee, an action for defamation may exist.

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Employment Contract and Severance Package Negotiation and Litigation:

When considering new employment, one must consider job security. As previously discussed, New York is an employment at-will state, which basically means that absent an employment or union agreement, an employer may terminate an employee for cause OR FOR NO CAUSE at any time regardless of the amount of years that an employee has worked. This obviously leaves little or no job security for the non-union employee who is working without an employment contract. While not all employers will be willing to give their employees an employment agreement, it is a document that has consistently proven invaluable to the employee who receives one. Specifically, the contract will provide a “just-cause” clause which will require that your employer have good cause prior to firing you should they decide to do so prior to the end of the term of the employment agreement.

However, numerous clauses can be drafted into the employment agreement to protect the interests of the employer as well. For example, the contract will obligate the employee to work for the employer for a fixed duration. An employer may include a reasonable non-compete clause which will prevent the employee from conducting the same type of business in the event the employee breaches the contract and for a reasonable period of time after the expiration of the term of the contract. An employer may want to include a non-disclosure and confidentiality clause which will prevent the employee from disclosing the employer’s confidential information (customer lists, soon to be released products, formulas etc. Thus, an employment agreement is a very useful tool in achieving a successful working relationship between an employer and employee. It provides the employee with invaluable job security while, at the same time, serving the interests of the employer by ensuring the protection of his on-going business.

Mark B. Stumer & Associates, P.C., has drafted, negotiated, consulted on, and litigated many employment agreements. Some involving partnership equity, some involving seven figure yearly salaries, and even one involving free food to a waiter during his employment with a restaurant. We have litigated breach of employment agreements from both the employer and employee side and enjoy a terrific success rate.

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