another day, another sexual harasser. A/K/A call us

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I knew last Monday was going to be a super long day. I had personal training at 8:30 am, the first of many in-office meetings at 10 am, tons of work to do all day, and then choir rehearsal from 7:30 to 10 pm. I had a rare commute to myself (usually I drop off one of my two girls) and I was taking the time to try to focus and rally myself. “You can do it!” I was saying to myself, probably listening to Lizzo. I had transferred from the F to the A/C when a guy got on the train next to me. I was standing near the doors, and he got on next to me at the doors. He was yelling and obviously unhinged – ok fine. But he immediately turned toward me staring directly at me. I actually don’t remember what he was yelling but it involved accusations of me being a “bitch”, his desire to “rape” (me?), yelling about “fucking”, and grabbing his junk under his pants.  He was about 2-3 feet away from me. I froze in my spot. I did not move or blink, other than to close my eyes, and think calm thoughts until the next stop, planning to switch cars at the next stop. But High Street to Fulton is super long! It felt like forever. And when I moved to get off, he did the same. So then I stayed in place, which he did too. I finally darted off and-

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Why Caroline Cohen is the Woman for the Job (Civil Court Judge, 6th Municipal District)

Crumiller’s Senior Associate, Caroline Piela Cohen, is running for New York City Civil Court Judge in the 6th Municipal District.  Here’s why she is the woman for the job. I first met Caroline shortly after we both had our first children in the fall of 2012.  We had both joined a “Ditmas Park Moms” group.  I liked her right away and was happy to learn we were both attorneys in the same field. Caroline is a genuine person, and you can tell right away that she has a kind heart.  She’s warm and engaging; it makes her fun to be around.   Soon after we became friends, I came to realize that she is also whip smart.  I started trying to recruit her for my law firm way before I had the money to hire somebody.  I knew she would be an excellent attorney: great with clients, direct and to the point, and a savvy strategizer. I’ll never forget when Caroline finally reached out to me to ask if I still had a position for her.  I ran over to my calculator and crunched some numbers.  We had a deal within 10 minutes.  I learned later that she had texted me from the bathroom in court.  She had been in an uncomfortable position, where she felt pressured to move eviction proceedings forward against an elderly tenant and she felt like it went against her principles.  She made a decision on the spot. My instincts about Caroline’s excellence were 100% correct.  She brings her A-Game every-

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Spotlight On: Genesis Fisher

Genesis Fisher

When I graduated from NYU Law twelve years ago, I could not possibly have imagined how beautiful and resilient the friendships I formed would become, and what an important part of my life they would be.  (That handsome man in my lawyering section – how could I have guessed we would one day get married and have two children together??)  But one of my great joys has been welcoming my friend and brilliant colleague, Genesis Fisher, to the world of entrepreneurship this year. Genesis and I became friends through the public-interest crowd and a capital defense fellowship we were fortunate enough to take together, helmed by the brilliant, esteemed, and preternaturally kind Tony Amsterdam.  Genesis went on to become a public defender, as many of us did.  Through the years she spent defending her clients in Brooklyn, she developed a thick skin, the lawyer version of street smarts (court smarts?), and amazing litigation skills.  Talking to Genesis about our jobs, she was never one of those jerks who sat around complaining about her clients or adversaries.  She was always thoughtful, always observing, analyzing, and listening.  She took the time and energy to really understand where her clients were coming from. BTW, she’s also super fun, and definitely way cooler than me.  One time she and some other friends were over at my place, and we were having a dance party with my daughter Zohra (Sadia wasn’t born yet).  I noticed Zohra quietly watching Genesis’s moves and then going off into the-

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What’s the “Mother Court” You Ask?

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The “Mother Court” is known officially as the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. While the exact origin of the nickname is unknown, it is supposed that it comes from the fact that not only can this court trace its origins to the Judiciary Act of 1789, but it predates the formation of the U.S. Supreme Court. For avid “Hamilton” fans – Aaron Burr was one of the first attorneys admitted to practice before the “Mother Court.” (We dare you to say Aaron Burr with a mouthful of peanut butter sandwich!) Want to read more about The Mother Court? Check out this excerpt on the ABA’s site.

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Catching up on 2018 – and What’s to Come!

2018 Sparklers

This morning, I took a moment to pause and reflect on my life as it stands.  When I think about what’s most important, of course, I think of my family first (Zohra is six now!  and Sadia is three!).  But loving them, and providing for them, comes pretty easily.  Naturally, they are irascible at times, but by and large they are kindhearted, curious, creative, and boundlessly energetic.  “Children strive lifeward”, as Dr. Ned Hallowell – my favorite author on children – likes to say. But anyway, I digress. The harder part about parenting is the responsibility I feel to show them what it means to make the most of my potential and to make the difference I want to see in the world.  It’s been almost three years since I created my law firm dedicated to fighting gender and pregnancy discrimination in the workplace and fighting for the rights of NYC tenants.  Am I proud?  Eff yeah.  We have done incredible work; we’ve helped dozens and dozens of people get to a better place in their lives, and we’re only getting started. My favorite part about thinking about my law firm is the security I feel in the knowledge that every single person on my team has a genuine desire, first and foremost, to help our clients.  As employment and L&T litigators, we face difficult situations every day.  Worse, we are all a bunch of quick-witted hotheads with strong opinions about virtually everything, and we all like to argue.  But-

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Pregnancy Discrimination Around the World: Mandatory Pregnancy Tests??

medical test

Just last month, a City College in the Phillippines issued a policy requiring all female dentistry, nursing, and pharmacy students to undergo pregnancy tests.  If the test comes back positive, the student may be prohibited from certain classes.  In the memo announcing the policy, the school requested that the deans from each school provide a list of female students, and noted the cost of the test would be added to those students’ fees. The  Gabriela Women’s Party released a powerful statement condemning the policy as discriminatory. The school, of course, defended its policy by saying it was designed to protect the students.  Nobody wants to endanger unborn children.  So what’s the harm? Remember that Women are Human Beings My own nifty #lifehack for evaluating whether a policy is discriminatory is to remember that women are human beings.  Pretend for just a moment that pregnant women aren’t just vessels or incubators.  Remember for a moment that over 90% of women are sexually active, and that only misogynists think women should be punished for sex.  Make a wild guesstimate as to how many surprise pregnancies during college are wanted. A woman who has a wanted pregnancy has every right to protect her pregnancy and to make informed choices about the timing of her courseload.  If we remember that women are people, we can assume that a pregnant woman is logically concerned about the health of her unborn child and will take all appropriate measures to protect it.  We don’t need paternalistic laws mandating this-

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5 Things You Should Know About the Pregnancy Discrimination Act

Pregnancy

Whether you are currently pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant, you should understand the basics of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. This Act was created to help protect the rights of working mothers. Here are five important things that you should know about it: 1. It’s illegal for you to be denied a job because you are or could become pregnant. If you apply for a job and are fully able to perform the job, it is illegal for an employer to not hire you simply because you are or could become pregnant. 2. Pregnant employees must be permitted to work as long as they are able to do their job. If you can still perform your job, it’s illegal for your employer to tell you that you must begin your leave. You are entitled to work until you are no longer able to do your job or until you choose to take your leave. 3. Employers must treat your pregnancy just as they would treat standard injuries or illnesses. Always take a look at your company’s policy regarding injury and illness. If your company requires a doctor’s note for absences caused by illness, make sure that you have a note for them in regards to your illness. After recovering for a time, if your company requires a doctor’s release in order for you to come back to work, have that ready. Your company must treat your pregnancy (and any illness or injury that may come with it) exactly as-

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Gender Discrimination and Paternity Leave in New York

father and son

The birth of a child is a beautiful and stressful time. Because of the recovery time necessary after pregnancy, employers expect that a woman will remain on maternity leave for a time and plan ahead for that time. They may offer a reasonable amount of time for the woman to heal, care for, and bond with her new baby. Frequently, however, this same courtesy is not extended to new fathers, and in New York state, this is illegal for a couple of reasons. Paid Family Leave Effective January 1, 2018, Paid Family Leave is available for most employees working in New York. It provides job-protected paid time off so you can: Bond with your new child, Care for a sick relative, or Help out when a family member is deployed for active military service According to the NY.gov website, “During 2018, you can take up to eight weeks of Paid Family Leave and receive 50% of your average weekly wage (AWW), capped at 50% of the New York State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW). Your AWW is the average of your last eight weeks of pay prior to starting Paid Family Leave. The SAWW is updated annually.” Be aware that over the next several years, the percentage of weekly compensation and the number of weeks of leave will increase. The plan is to receive 55% with 10 weeks in 2019, 60% with 10 weeks in 2020, and 67% with 12 weeks in 2021. Gender Discrimination Gender discrimination is illegal, whether you’re-

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5 Tips for Negotiating a Longer Maternity Leave with Your Boss

Pregant couple

Whether you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, your upcoming maternity leave may be on your mind. Some employers offer up to twelve weeks of maternity leave, but in some cases, this time is not enough. If you are thinking about negotiating for a longer maternity leave with your boss, follow these five tips. 1) Know Your Company’s Leave Policy Check your company’s employee handbook for information about maternity leave protocols. If your company doesn’t offer maternity leave, ask your human resources department. You may have other options available to you if you need to extend your leave past the allowable time frame. Crumiller P.C. can help you if you have questions about this. 2) Start Planning and Prioritizing Now You already know that you’re going to ask for more time off, so come up with a plan. Think about which coworkers could do components of your job while you’re on leave. Then, look ahead to try to determine if you have any particularly big projects that will need your attention while you are out. If you do find a situation where you are the only person who can complete a very important task, think about some sort of a compromise. Coming back part-time or with a modified work schedule might be an option that’s available. By thinking through all the possible scenarios now, you reduce the likelihood of being denied a longer maternity leave. If you present your HR or manager/boss with a plan on how things are-

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