5 Red Flags for Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

Discrimination in the workplace isn’t always obvious. When employers and coworkers treat you differently because of your pregnancy, they may be doing so unconsciously or even out of (misplaced) concern for you — but in many cases, such treatment comes down to discrimination. If you’re pregnant, you’ve recently had a baby, or you’re considering starting a family in the near future, it’s important to arm yourself with knowledge of your employment rights. Take a look at the following scenarios for some common warning signs of pregnancy discrimination. 1) Everyone’s a critic. If your employers are gearing up to fire or demote you, they may start to build up justification through negative performance reviews. You may notice a suspiciously-timed increase in criticism, as well as a harsher tone and more variation in the type of negative feedback you receive. This treatment is always alarming, but is especially so if you generally enjoy good relationships with your co-workers and supervisors.. In rare cases, you may even notice complaints, backhanded or direct, about your performance specific to your pregnancy. 2) You’re feeling left out. Red flags don’t always show in the form of direct feedback or confrontation. When it comes to a deserted email inbox or an unusually blank calendar, you may note an absence of communication more than an abundance of criticism. If you’re missing out on meetings, networking events,  or other important communications that you would normally receive, you may be looking at a subtle symptom of pregnancy discrimination. 3) Your opportunities are dwindling. You may also experience a decrease in training or education opportunities. You may have attended classes, seminars, workshops, or other training events related to your field . If you’ve recently felt sidelined from a path of steady career growth, ask your managers for clarification. Your conversation may shed light on the question of whether you’re experiencing pregnancy discrimination. 4) They won’t make accommodations. Employers across the United States have a legal responsibility to accommodate your needs during pregnancy. You may find that you need lighter duties, more breaks, medical leave, or other accommodations, and your employers must make reasonable efforts to comply. If they deny your pregnancy-related requests, you may be looking at a big red flag for discrimination. 5) They limit your growth. If you were previously a strong candidate for a raise or promotion, you may find that you’ve been passed over following a pregnancy announcement. In these cases, silence can speak louder than words, as enthusiastic discussions about your raise or promotion are suddenly hushed. Some women experience  demotions or poor treatment designed to make them quit. If you’re not currently pregnant and don’t have children, it’s not uncommon to hear suggestions about your future at the company, hinting that your opportunities will be limited if you should choose to have kids.   If you suspect pregnancy discrimination in your workplace, start taking notes immediately. An attorney can provide you with specific guidance about the actions you can take in light of discriminatory behavior.-

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Why Having ADD Makes Me a Great Attorney

Originality.  Creativity.  Charisma.  Energy.  Liveliness.  An unusual sense of humor.  Areas of intellectual brilliance.  Spunk. About 90% of the compliments I receive mention these qualities.  And it’s no coincidence that these are the traits common to those with ADD. ADD (aka ADHD – the terms are interchangeable) is highly misunderstood.  Some people might ask, why on earth would I want an attorney who is unable to focus, unable to remember anything, hyper-fidgety, and always distracted?  Truly, you wouldn’t want that.  But that’s not really what ADD is. In fact, ADD is a collection of traits that makes me an excellent attorney.  Here’s the real truth about those of us gifted with ADD. We think super fast. The main difference between the ADD brain and the regular brain is speed.  People often come into my office with a large pile of papers and are astonished at the speed with which I immediately identify and hone in on the key facts and the important issues.  For us, our brains work at a rapid fire pace; ADD is sometimes described as like having a race car brain. Fast thinking is the ultimate trial attorney skill.  I can’t tell you how important it is, when your mind is racing for an objection, when you’re analyzing a direct examination and figuring out which questions to ask on cross, when a judge asks you a question and you have to come up with reasoning on the fly that is logical and legally sound, not to be the one who is left stammering and stuttering. Fast thinking also means I work super efficiently and this saves my clients money. We are creative. People with ADD are creative, original thinkers.  We thrive as entrepreneurs and inventors.  Creativity is extremely important in the law!  I often compare myself to an interpreter – lives are messy, and it’s my job to create a narrative with structure that is going to fit into a neat package that a judge will like and that dovetails with whatever legal theory we are trying to present.  This molding process requires a lot of creative work.  Who might be a surprise witness you might not have thought of?  What are some leads, some documents it didn’t occur to you to look at?  What are some reasons our adversary might be doing certain things, and how can we leverage that information?  Good litigation attorneys use our creative thinking skills constantly. We are bold risk-takers. Many people with ADD are prone to addiction or self-destructive behavior because we enjoy and thrive on risk.  What better healthy outlet than the risk of litigation?  With real lives at stake, naturally, I would never do anything to unnecessarily jeopardize my clients’ futures and well beings.  But most people are very risk averse.  Most lawyers don’t really want to go to trial.  Most lawyers are afraid and they have to talk themselves into engaging in a real fight. I mentioned earlier that 90% of the compliments I receive involve the list ADD traits above-

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How to Negotiate With Your Jerk Boss: A Litigator’s Guide From the Trenches (Part I)

Every woman who strives for success, to attain the best for herself and her family if she has one, must negotiate at some point in her life. Negotiation is scary and unpleasant for many, because it involves confrontation, and many people haven’t developed the skills yet to handle confrontation without stress. Negotiation with your boss is even worse: (A) you’re in the position of lesser power, and (B) you may feel like your ego is on the line. Negotiating with your boss is hard for everyone, but especially for women. Women who correctly assess their own worth, and make demands accordingly, are harshly evaluated. It’s not our place; we should be nicer (quieter); we should demand less; we’re less important, less valuable, less deserving. You know that is false, and so do I. But we also live in the real world and so, as savvy negotiators, we’re going to deftly incorporate navigating this bullshit to all the other stuff we have to do to achieve success. More money, more leave time, better benefits, more flexibility: it is there for you if you’ve done the preparation and you have the fortitude to demand it. To get the results you want, you need to engage your heart, your brain, your muscles, AND your steel ovaries. Ready? STEP ONE: DECIDE WHY. Step one is the “heart” step. Whether you want more money, time off, or something else, don’t start with figuring out the details. Figure out why this is important to you. Do you feel undervalued and it’s negatively impacting your self-worth? Do you want and deserve certain things that cost money but you can’t afford because you’re not getting fairly compensated for your hard work? Do you suspect there are less qualified people at your company making more than you, and the injustice makes you angry? Are you thinking ahead to your future career path and understanding that each increase you get has an upward increase on every increase you get for the rest of your life? Are you expecting a child and you know it is important to establish for yourself that your family comes first to you? Do you want to set a good example for your kids by standing up for yourself and valuing yourself so that your kids will do the same for themselves? Whatever your reasons are, I suggest you start with exploring them. Once you can articulate why this negotiation is important to you, that importance will become more real. And ultimately, if you have prepared properly, you will succeed at any negotiation where your feelings are stronger than the other person’s. STEP TWO: DO YOUR RESEARCH. Allot enough time to do your research outside the office. You simply cannot enter into a negotiation if you are not performing your best at work. Even if your employer doesn’t notice, YOU will know. You need to be ready to enter the conversation from an ass-kicking position of strength. This is the part where you engage your brain.-

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Five Reasons Why Experience Matters

As I round the end of my first decade of practice, I recently had occasion to reminisce about my very first trial in March 2008. Remembering the stress and anxiety is fun in retrospect, although when you’re new to trials, the experience is somewhat petrifying. Thinking back to my early days as a trial attorney makes me come to appreciate the importance of the skills you learn over time that come only with experience. Here are five reasons why it’s important to have an experienced trial attorney on your team when you are fighting to get the result you want, whether you’re prosecuting or defending a case. (1) More forceful negotiating. Though they would never admit it, most attorneys want to avoid trial if at all possible. It is time consuming, tiring, and requires a lot of focus. You’ll look like an idiot if you’re not familiar with the facts of the case and the rules of evidence. While most attorneys want to avoid trial, this motivator becomes much stronger for the inexperienced practitioner, whose negotiations will inevitably be impacted. I usually want to avoid trial too, if only because it’s expensive for my clients. But I always visualize how a trial is likely to go very early on in the case. If you are “trial ready”, even just mentally, you can’t help but advocate more forcefully for your client. (2) Maintaining clearer focus on the big picture. A big part of what I do is winnowing down information. 30 minutes of testimony are better than three hours. Five photographs are better than 50. An attorney who is unsure of herself will hesitate to omit any possible fact from her presentation, fearing it could be a mistake. An experienced attorney has the judgment and confidence to make an informed evaluation as to what piece of evidence will be persuasive. (3) Maintaining clearer focus on the courtroom. When do I object? How am I going to introduce this document? How do I overcome an objection? How do I elicit the information I need from a witness without asking leading questions? When you first learn to play chess (another hobby I enjoy), you focus your moves on what each piece is allowed to do and what vulnerabilities exist on each individual square. Once you internalize this information, you free up mental space to analyze and form a real strategy. Litigation is similar. A more relaxed questioner on direct examination will mean a more relaxed witness. An attorney who can pay attention to the witness’s actual answers instead of just focusing on the question is going to end up with much better testimony. An attorney who can concentrate on the judge’s demeanor and reactions to different questions will get the best result of all. (4) Knowing the difference between TV and real life. It takes a few cross-examinations before you genuinely come to learn that trials in real life are not like trials on TV. This means “gotcha” questions don’t usually work unless-

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Utah v Streiff: A Historic Dissent

Although Crumiller P.C. doesn’t focus on issues of race specifically, I am a firm believer in the necessity of fighting racism in achieving equality for all. While we focus on issues of family rights – pregnancy discrimination, maternity and paternity leave – which are not specifically racial issues, we find that, as in all areas, people of color suffer disproportionately from harsh treatment and negative stereotypes, along with the many structural barriers to equality. I believe white people have a special responsibility to speak up about these issues. To that end, and in honor of her 62nd birthday on Saturday, I step back for a minute this week to examine Sonia Sotomayor’s historic dissent in Utah v. Streiff, 579 U.S. ___ (2016), a case which serves as an important microcosm for the ways in which racial injustice is viewed and addressed in our society. In this case, a police officer stopped someone walking down the street, who had been seen emerging from a house in which drug activity was suspected. The stop itself was without reasonable suspicion, and importantly, the State conceded that. The officer then ran a search and found an outstanding arrest warrant. With the warrant as justification, the officer searched the man, and found drugs. the Court faced the issue whether evidence obtained by police at an illegal stop could be used against the defendant if, after the stop, an outstanding arrest warrant was discovered. Generally, such evidence is inadmissible under the age-old “exclusionary rule” which provides that “fruit of the poisonous tree” – evidence obtained illegally – cannot be used against a person. Applying precedent, the court evaluated three factors. First, the amount of time elapsed between the unlawful search and the discovery of the evidence. Because here, the discovery was immediate, this factor weighed in favor of suppression. Second, “intervening circumstances.” Justice Thomas found that because the warrant was valid and predated the stop, and imposed an obligation to arrest upon the officer, the “arrest … was a ministerial act that was independently compelled by the pre-existing warrant.” Lastly, the Court considered the “purpose and flagrancy of the official misconduct”. Because the stop was concededly improper, this factor should have clearly weighed in favor of suppression. But Justice Thomas felt compelled to make excuses for the officer, observing his were “good-faith mistakes”. Most bafflingly, Thomas found there to be “no indication that this unlawful stop was part of any systemic or recurrent police misconduct.” (8). In sum, the absence of probable cause for the stop is not necessarily “flagrant” justifying exclusion and evidence obtained illegally can be admissible if it seems like the officer meant well. Sotomayor dissected and refuted each of these points. As Sotomayor pointed out (as did Kagan, in her also-excellent dissent), 16,000 out of the 21,000 residents of Ferguson, MO have outstanding warrants. Salt Lake City itself, where this case occurred, “had a ‘backlog of outstanding warrants’ so large that it faced the ‘potential for civil liability’”. In response to the-

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Pregnancy Rights Primer

Pregnancy rights are integral to the American economy and the American family. Better late than never, society is finally coming to recognize it. Women are smart, capable, and dedicated workers, and guess what – many of us have kids! New York City has one of the best pregnancy discrimination laws in the country. The New York City Human Rights Commission, which enforces them, issued some new guidelines last month. And this week, for the White House United State of Women Summit, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a new fact sheet. This post is intended as a very basic primer on your rights under NYC and federal laws. The first step in enforcing your rights is knowing what they are. New York City NYC requires employers to reasonably accommodate pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions, without the need to prove “disability”. Related conditions includes things like pumping breast milk, abortion, and fertility treatment. Discrimination against pregnant workers is strictly prohibited. Note that discrimination isn’t always black and white. If an employer takes action against you, even in part because of your pregnancy, come talk to us – you may have a claim. This can mean anything from hostile remarks (including jokes) that make you uncomfortable, to demotion or firing. Any “lesser treatment” counts. If you need a reasonable accommodation for your pregnancy, the employer must participate in a “cooperative dialogue” to help find a workable solution that doesn’t pose an undue hardship. We can help you navigate this process. After giving birth, you are entitled to take reasonable leave. This means at least 6 weeks for a vaginal delivery and at least 8 weeks for Caesarean. If you need more time than that, the employer must engage in the cooperative dialogue. Upon your return, you are entitled to be reinstated at your position or any equivalent one, with the same benefits and seniority. Do you suspect you’re not being treated as well after taking leave as you were before? Come talk to us! More info on the NYC laws is available here. United States The federal laws, which cover employers with 15 or more employees, require employers to offer pregnant workers the same accommodations they offer other workers. For example, if you are allowed to work from home after you break your leg, then you should be allowed to work from home if you need to because of your pregnancy. Pregnancy is not considered a disability per se under the ADA, but many common pregnancy symptoms are. If you have any questions – need I say it? – come talk to us. Conclusion It is my firm belief that changing the way we think about the relationship between work and pregnancy/ childbirth is absolutely key to achieving gender equality. The experiences I had, when I had my own kids, are what led me to open my own firm, and dedicate my life to helping others ensure that they don’t suffer at work for the important work that goes into growing a-

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