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 I never doubt, for even a second, that each person on my team has our clients’ best interests in mind. We are always, always thinking about what are the client’s goals, what will be best for the client, how can we save the client unnecessary legal fees, how is the client feeling about everything right now, has she changed her mind since we last checked in. That level of trust gives me great pride. It’s what makes me the happiest when I think about my firm. Don’t get me wrong – I take great pride in our skills also! This year, the results speak for themselves. Our teamwork with our clients, whether pushing the envelope to fight gender and pregnancy discrimination in the workplace or fighting for our L&T clients’ tenancy rights, is something to celebrate. Some of the amazing results we obtained this past year: Secured substantial six-figure settlements for two clients sexually harassed by their employer Secured a monetary recovery for client subject to extremely hostile work environment including sexist slurs and profanity. She’s now at a new job where she can focus on her talents, and not suffering through constant attack Negotiated a substantial recovery for an employee who was fired while pregnant Won reimbursement of attorney’s fees for client who was temporarily absent from his rent-stabilized home due to family obligations Through targeted and strategic litigation, we successfully persuaded a recalcitrant Board to let our clients sell their HDFC unit, where prior counsel had tried and-
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 behavior as though the pregnant woman were a petulant child in need of guidance and structure from the wise government bureaucrats. But I think what we all know is that laws like this have absolutely nothing to do with protecting unborn children. They have to do with punishing women for sex. Your typical college student taking a pregnancy test in college is desperately hoping and praying the results are negative. Abortion is not legal in the Phillippines, but we all know that does not stop desperate women who are not ready to have children from making every effort to avoid doing so. Reproductive Penalties Are an Easy Way to Discriminate Against Women Can you even imagine another scenario in which an institution required a list of its female students in order to make them pay more? While this situation sounds straight out of the Handmaids Tale, it is rooted in the same sexist beliefs that motivate pregnancy discrimination in all its forms. Pregnancy and childbirth are used all over the world, including the US, as pretexts to discriminate against women. It’s important to fight these efforts wherever they arise. Our firm is proud to represent women (and men!) facing pregnancy and caregiver discrimination by their employers. I can say from experience that no industry is immune from these outdated attitudes. Keep in touch with Crumiller P.C. and let’s keep working together to root out discrimination wherever it arises!
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 they would treat an illness or injury leave of any other employee. To hold you to higher standards or request more information from you is illegal. 4. All new parents may be eligible for 12 weeks of leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 states that any new parent may be eligible for 12 weeks of leave to care for their new child. This means that whether you adopt or give birth, you can take time to bond and care for your new baby without fear of losing your job. Both men and women are eligible to take this time off. Whether your leave is unpaid or paid for depends upon your company’s policy and the amount of time that you have worked for them. Be aware that New York has state-specific laws that extend leave time and benefits while you care for your child. Contact us for more information. 5. You don’t have to take all your leave time. You are the one who decides when you want to come back to work. As long as you are within the window of time offered by your company for leave, you should be welcome to come back whenever you feel like you’re ready. If your policy says otherwise, contact us. Get a Lawyer If you feel like you’ve been the victim of workplace discrimination because of your pregnancy or potential to become pregnant, seek legal help. This discrimination is illegal, and you should get a dedicated gender and-
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 male or female. In regards to taking family leave, it is illegal for your employer to: Offer a man less time off than a woman, Urge you to only take a portion of your leave, Make snide comments upon your return about taking care of your family, Reduce your work as a punishment for taking leave, and Terminate you for taking leave. If you check your employee handbook at work, you may find that there are some inequities in leave. Make sure to talk with human resources well before you need to take time off to ensure that you get the leave you are entitled to. However, if they don’t grant you the leave, or if any of the other situations listed above occur, you need to speak with a lawyer. Get a Lawyer If you are being discriminated against at work, you need a qualified civil rights law firm who regularly fights discrimination in the workplace like the Crumiller team. You don’t have to tolerate gender discrimination or illegal practices of your employer. Instead, contact Susan and find out how she can help you get the family leave that’s legally yours.
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 going to be accomplished with the maternity leave in mind, your request will be more likely to be approved. Not to mention, taking the time to think about your future workload shows your company that you care what happens to your projects while you’re gone—and that you plan to come back. 3) Know What You Want You’ve looked through the employee handbook, so you know what maternity benefits will be offered. Think about how much longer you want or need your leave to be. Come up with a specific request that you feel comfortable sharing with your human resources department. 4) Contact Human Resources Even if you’re not pregnant yet, it still a good idea to talk to your human resources department now. The further in advance you can plan for your maternity leave, the easier it will be on everyone. With more time to anticipate issues that may arise in your absence, it’s easier to come up with a solution that is helpful to both parties. To have the best possible meeting, bring any planning that you have already done regarding delegation of your work. Communicate what you would do if different situations arise. For example, if you’d be willing to come in and work in a part-time capacity, that much should be in the presentation. Finally, be very clear about what you expect. When you are specific about what you’re seeking, your employer can better decide how to proceed. 5) Talk to a Lawyer Since you already know-
Gender discrimination in the workplace is illegal, and occurrences are more regular than you may think. In fact, some forms of gender discrimination are so subtle that you may not even realize that you’ve been discriminated against. The Pew Research Center released the statistics on gender discrimination in the United States back in December 2017. Here are five common ways that you may experience or be experiencing gender discrimination in the workplace. Position Bias Unfortunate as it may be, there still exists a cultural belief that some genders are better in certain jobs than others. For example, a woman might seem like a better fit as a secretary or nurse than a man. Likewise, a man might seem like a better fit as a boss or doctor than a woman. We all know this cultural bias exists, and it’s important to realize that position bias truly impacts both genders. Everyone is legally allowed the right to work in their chosen career field. Interview Questions If you’re in an interview and you are asked questions about whether you plan on having kids and raising a family, that’s a form of gender discrimination. Even though both males and females can parent evenly, it’s often the maternity leave time and additional insurance expenses that perpetuate this line of questioning. No matter what the motive, even if it seems like small talk, these kinds of questions are illegal. Pay and Benefits It has been studied and documented that women in many industries receive less pay and benefits than their male counterparts. Even from the beginning, many women are offered reduced, “low-ball” packages because it’s less likely for a woman to counter-offer than a man. When the woman starts at a lower wage, it’s less likely that she’ll ever make the same amount as her male counterparts. Promotions If two people start at different wages and both receive the same percentage of bonus or raise, the one who starts with the higher wage will receive a larger raise. This steadily increases the pay gap between the two individuals. So, naturally, if you start at a lower wage than your peers, you’re going to struggle to make the same amount of money as they do. Also, unfortunately, women can be less assertive about asking for/demanding promotions or raises. Men tend to have more tenacity about requesting and receiving promotions and raises. Terminations Unfortunately, if you’re a woman working in a very male-dominated field, you are more likely to be terminated than your male counterpart. Plus, it’s possible that if you are sexually harassed and your bosses don’t handle your claim seriously, they may choose to solve the problem by getting rid of you instead of the person who sexually harassed you. This is a sad reality for women working in male-dominated fields. This is why we encourage you to come see us right away to see if you suspect you’ve been a victim of workplace gender discrimination. What Should I Do? According to the U.S.-
If you are an employed New Yorker, you are paying into Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits. You can take PFL whenever you have a new child (whether through birth, adoption, or foster care), when you have to care for a family member, or when you are deployed by the military. In a previous blog, we discussed the eligibility requirements for PFL. In this blog, we’ll list the documents that you’ll need and how to apply for the PFL. If you believe or have been unfairly denied Paid Family Leave as required by New York state law, we are ready to fight for your rights. Please don’t hesitate to call us at (212) 390-8480. Important Disclaimer: This is meant to be a short guide; for the latest information on the process, please visit the New York State Department of Labor website. This process may vary from employer to employer, so be sure to contact your human resources department. What You’ll Need to Apply for PFL As you receive paperwork regarding your situation, collect it. Until you’re certain which documents your employer will require, it’s best to have them all. When applying for maternity leave, if you are the birth mother, you need your child’s birth certificate and documentation of your pregnancy or delivery from the health care provider (with your name and the baby’s due or birth date). If you are the second parent, you need a copy of the child’s birth certificate or a letter verifying paternity and a documentation of the pregnancy or delivery from the health care provider (listing the mother’s name and the baby’s due or birth date). You also need a document that verifies your relationship with the birth mother. If you are a foster parent, you need a letter of placement issued by your city or county social services department. Here, if you are the second parent and you’re unlisted on this document, you need a copy of this document and a letter explaining your relationship to the listed parent. For those welcoming an adopted baby, you need legal evidence of the adoption. Once again, if the second parent is not named on the adoption paperwork, he or she needs a copy of that paperwork and a letter explaining his or her relationship with the listed parent. If you are applying for PFL to care for a close relative, you need certification from the care recipient’s health care provider. For those applying for a military-related leave, you need a copy of the military duty papers, a US Department of Labor Military Family Leave Certification (Federal Military Leave Form), and other documentation that supports the reason for the leave. This could include meeting documentation, ceremony details, and rest and recuperation orders, to name a few. Application for PFL Once you have all your documents collected, follow these simple steps to apply for PFL. Notify your employer at least 30 days before you want your leave to start that you wish to take Paid Family Leave. If you’re-
Having a baby is an exciting event in your life. Whether it is your first or you are already a seasoned parent, every new child is truly a blessing. One worry that many parents have, however, is how it will impact their employment. Fortunately for both moms and dads in New York, most employees will qualify for paid family leave. Learning about the eligibility requirements will help you to prepare for the future, and know what to expect in your position. The following eligibility requirements are the minimum requirements required by state law. Many employers have their own policies that are more generous than what is strictly required, so while this article will provide an excellent starting point, you should reach out to your manager or HR department to get the specific policy from your company. Hours Per Week & Years of Service In order to qualify for paid family leave, employees need to be with the company for a set amount of time, and work a minimum number of hours per week. The breakdown is as follows: Schedule of 20+ hours per week – Employees who have a regular work schedule of 20+ hours per week will qualify for paid family leave after they have been employed with the company for 26 weeks. Schedule of less than 20 hours per week – Any employee who is scheduled for less than 20 hours per week (on average) will qualify for this benefit after 175 days worked. Qualifying Events In most cases, paid family leave is used after giving birth to a child. This is not, however, the only time that you can use this important benefit. Some additional situations where you can qualify for paid time off include: Adoption or fostering a child Caring for a close relative (spouse, child, parent, grandparent, etc.) Active duty deployment (when a close relative has been notified that they will be called into active military duty) These events don’t always qualify for full benefits. Depending on the situation, you may qualify for anything from simple protection for your job when you return, to full pay while you are gone. Talk with your HR representative to go over your specific benefits. Protecting Your Rights Paid family leave must be provided by employers in most situations. If your employer refuses to offer these benefits, or is taking action to try to get out of them, it is important to act quickly. Contact Susan Crumiller to go over the details of your situation and see what your legal options may be.
As much as we wish it weren’t the case, sexual harassment in the workplace is still a surprisingly common and disturbing experience. Fortunately, there are laws and protections in place to help ensure those who are sexually harassed are able to demand a safe and fair workplace. If the victim is not granted relief, the harasser and/or the employer can be sued in a court of law. Sexual harassment can include a wide variety of different things including harassing comments, persistent sexual advances, inappropriate touching, and more. It can also include actions like having managers only invite the men to a team building event, or only giving promotions to females. If you have been sexually harassed in the workplace, make sure you do the following five things to protect yourself and your legal rights. Protect Yourself The first, and most important thing to do is make sure that you are safe. If you are being physically threatened or touched in dangerous way, remove yourself from the situation. All the other tips in this post are secondary to this one. Protecting yourself could mean going immediately to your boss, calling the police, or just leaving work and not coming back until you are safe. Learn Your Corporate Policies Virtually all companies today have an official policy on sexual harassment. In addition to forbidding inappropriate actions, the policy will also tell you how you should handle reporting it, and what obligations you have to fulfill. As soon as possible, become familiar with these policies so that you can be sure you are following them to the T. Don’t Quit Your Job Unless it is unsafe to go to work, you should not quit your job. The courts have ruled in the past that if someone quits their job, they give up certain rights to a sexual harassment lawsuit. While you should never put yourself in danger, it is generally a good idea to remain working for the employer in whatever capacity is possible if you want to successfully bring a claim. Document Everything in Writing Make sure you write everything down, and keep proof of all meetings and comments. Each time you are sexually harassed, write it down with the dates and times. Any meetings you have with your manager, human resources, or anyone else about the harassment should also be documented in writing. This documentation will be needed should your case have to go to court. Report Every Instance If you have reported to your manager that a co-worker is making inappropriate comments to you, for example, the employer is obligated to address it right away. If it happens again, you need to file another report with your manager or HR. Every instance of harassment should be reported to your manager or HR depending on your company’s policies. Talk to an Attorney If your concerns are not addressed by your employer right away, it is a good idea to talk to an attorney about what options are available. Crumiller P.C. fights-
Few things can bring as much excitement and joy to your life as learning that you are pregnant. For far too many women, however, that joy is quickly stifled when they begin experiencing discrimination from their employer. Fortunately, there are legal protections in place that can help to guarantee your rights in these situations – but you need to know what your rights are, and how to demand them. Specifically, learning about the Pregnancy Discrimination Act is a great way to understand your rights. What is the PDA? The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was originally passed in 1978, and is a part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act is designed to help protect the rights of the millions of women who may become pregnant at some point during their careers. It is a fairly extensive piece of legislation, which governs virtually all aspects of employment including hiring, promotions, pay, firing, disciplinary actions, and employment benefits. This act applies to all employers that have fifteen or more employees. Although smaller employers aren’t covered under this act, however, they can’t legally directly discriminate against pregnant women either. What Rights Does it Protect? The PDA offers many protections against discrimination, which pregnant women are often a victim of. These protections apply not only to women who are pregnant, but also those who may become pregnant. Some specific rights that are protected include: Getting Fired – Employers may not terminate employment because you file a complaint against them for violating the PDA. Promotions – You may not be bypassed for a promotion simply because you are pregnant, or may become pregnant. Maternity Leave – Your employer must hold your job for you while you are on maternity leave for at least as long as they would for someone on sickness or disability leave. Hiring – Employers may not refuse to hire you just because you are pregnant, as long as you are able to perform the required job duties. Job Duties – You cannot be assigned job duties that are unsafe for you to perform while pregnant. Other – This legislation offers protections against any type of discrimination due to pregnancy or fertility. Get the Protection You Need If you feel you are being treated unfairly by your employer, or potential employer, it is important to act fast. Contact attorney Susan Crumiller to discuss your situation and get the legal protection you need against any type of pregnancy-related discrimination in New York.