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 ran into the other car. My heart was pounding while I waited to see if he was going to follow me into the car before the doors closed. The worst part of this was that there were so many people on the train who could have helped me. There was a super tall guy, not even wearing headphones, standing nearby, who could have just moved to stand in between me and the perpetrator. I kept looking at that guy and waiting for him, or anybody, to do something. Nobody did. Actually, that wasn’t the worst part. Here’s the worst part: there was a minute when I thought to myself, “I knew I should have waited until I got to the gym to change into my slutty gym clothes.” When I got off the train I was shaking and had tears in my eyes. I pretty much recovered and had a good workout at the gym. But I was mad. I was mad at the guy who didn’t help, but I was also mad at myself for questioning what I was wearing. I decided not to change out of my gym clothes when I went to the office that day. Everybody thought I was crazy when I walked in, but when I explained, they got it immediately. We represent a lot of clients who have faced sexual harassment. And all of us tend to say the same things to ourselves. Was it really so bad? Did I imagine it? Am I allowed-
This January, Susan testified before the NYC Commission on Human Rights at a hearing about Pregnancy and Caregiver Discrimination. January 2019 Hearing on Pregnancy and Caregiver Discrimination Update: The Report is Out! Click Here to read the NYC Commission on Human Rights’ report on pregnancy and caregiver discrimination.
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 single day, both with her litigation skills AND the homemade baked goods she makes for the office (how on earth the woman has time for everything she does is a mystery). She is warm and empathetic with clients, tough but respectful with adversaries, supportive of colleagues. Other employees have described Caroline to me as the “glue” of the office. She is the first one with a kind word: about others’ work, their accomplishments, their hairstyles. The main quality I prize at my firm is our integrity, and this is also the main quality I prize in Caroline. She is somebody who truly cares about doing the right thing. We all took a little personality quiz, and Caroline’s result is that her motivating drive is to contribute. I have seen her get teary-eyed when we have gotten great results for a deserving client. I’m getting teary-eyed, frankly, as I’m writing this. Caroline has dedicated her life and her career to social justice, and has found a way to make it happen even as a new mom. She is the real deal. The thought of losing Caroline from the firm pains me and each of us will miss her dearly. But, I truly believe that the bench needs her. Her skills, her integrity, her fair-mindedness, will be a credit to the judiciary each and every day. It’s what our litigants deserve. I hope you will join me in voting for Caroline Cohen this coming Tuesday.
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 corner by herself to practice them. But I digress. Genesis was – is – always the person we all went to for sage advice about an interpersonal conflict or drama. You can depend on her not to judge you, or if judgment is warranted, to be honest, but not harsh. So it was no surprise whatsoever to me when I learned she had embarked on a newer path into conflict resolution services. It was immediately obvious to me, and anybody else who is lucky enough to know this amazing woman, that it is her calling. Genesis has thrown herself into mediation, conflict resolution services, and training. Now with years of study and experience under her belt, and with her natural empathy, she is undoubtedly my go-to referral for anybody experiencing any kind of conflict. She also continues to represent criminal defense clients, something she probably could do in her sleep having represented thousands of clients, but she has never lost her caring sense. I hope you will take the time to look around on her website and keep her in mind when you have a friend, colleague, or prospective client looking for a referral, whether in the mediation and conflict resolution department, or the criminal defense department. Genesis is a phenomenal resource; let’s all make the world a better place by helping to spread the word about her blossoming practice to help connect clients in need with an amazing person they will feel lucky to have found.
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.
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.
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.-