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Credit Union Files Emergency Motion to Remove Michael Mulvaney from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

This morning, the law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP (ECBA) filed an emergency motion in federal court on behalf of the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union to remove Michael Mulvaney as Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The case challenges President Trump’s recent, illegal takeover of the CFPB through his White House employee, Mr. Mulvaney.

“We believe strongly that the CFPB must be an independent agency, and the succession process as outlined in the law is the only way to ensure that independence,” said Linda Levy, CEO of the Credit Union.

“Donald Trump’s takeover of the CFPB is a naked, illegal power grab,” said Ilann M. Maazel, a partner at ECBA, and lead counsel for the Credit Union. “We are asking the court to end the regulatory chaos and end Mr. Mulvaney’s tenure before he destroys the agency completely.”

“Mr. Mulvaney is gutting the CFPB every day he is permitted to remain at its helm. The CFPB must be able to do its job of holding financial institutions accountable, free from political meddling,” said Debra Greenberger, a partner at ECBA, and counsel for the Credit Union.

The Credit Union is a not-for-profit, federally-regulated financial cooperative owned by its approximately 8,500 members and dedicated to providing high-quality financial services and community development investments in low income, immigrant and other underserved communities.

The original federal complaint can be found here.

Read coverage of the motion in the Washington Examiner and The Intercept.

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ECBA Attorney Testifies at NYC Commission on Human Rights Hearing on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

On December 6, 2017, ECBA attorney Alanna Kaufman testified at the New York City Commission on Human Rights Hearing on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. In her testimony, she urged the Commission to continue to “create legal forums where women feel comfortable and safe coming forward” in instances of harassment and discrimination. Alanna described the harrowing experience of ECBA client LaDonna Powell, a victim of workplace sexual harassment and gender discrimination at Allied Security Services at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Alanna further explained: “What happened to LaDonna is the same thing that happens to countless women every day in industries that are not bathed in media light.”

To view the public hearing and Alanna’s testimony, click here. Alanna’s testimony begins at 2:39:00.

To view the written testimony, click here.

To view LaDonna Powell’s federal discrimination and sexual harassment complaint, click here.

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Credit Union Sues Donald Trump to Save the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

This afternoon, the law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP (ECBA) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union against Donald Trump and Michael Mulvaney. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Manhattan.

The lawsuit challenges President Trump’s recent, illegal takeover of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), in which he installed his at-will White House employee, Michael Mulvaney, to be Acting Director of the CFPB. The CFPB protects millions of Americans from unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices in the financial marketplace. Mr. Mulvaney has called the CFPB a “sad, sick joke.”

“We support the CFPB as a protector of our low income members’ financial rights, and fear that the appointment of an Acting Director beholden to the White House could result in upheaval and ultimate dissolution of this critical agency,” said Linda Levy, CEO of the Credit Union. “Having experienced the devastation that the 2008 mortgage crisis wreaked on our low income members, we need the CFPB to protect communities targeted by financial predators.”

“This is a naked, illegal power grab by Donald Trump to destroy an agency that helps and protects millions of ordinary Americans,” said Ilann M. Maazel, a partner at ECBA, and lead counsel for the Credit Union. “The law requires Leandra English to be CFPB’s Acting Director.”

“President Trump’s attempt to install a White House official as the acting head of what is supposed to be an independent agency is deeply disturbing and should concern everyone,” said Debra Greenberger, a partner at ECBA, and counsel for the Credit Union.

The Credit Union is a not-for-profit, federally-regulated financial cooperative owned by its approximately 8,500 members and dedicated to providing high-quality financial services and community development investments in low income, immigrant and other underserved communities.

Read coverage of the lawsuit in Reuters, the New York Post, and The Villager.

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ECBA Resolves Broadway Triangle Housing Discrimination Case with Landmark Settlement

A landmark settlement agreement was filed with the Court today resolving a lawsuit brought by ECBA’s client the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition, a diverse group of more than 40 nonprofits, residents, and fair housing advocates.  The Coalition filed suit 8 years ago, alleging that the City’s rezoning and development plans for the Broadway Triangle area of Brooklyn were discriminatory and perpetuated segregation.

The settlement agreement provides for the development of over 375 permanently affordable apartments that will be developed in a way designed to further fair housing without discrimination.  The agreement also provides that the City will pay between $2.4 and $4.8 million to fund fair housing workshops, counseling and educational materials, as well as legal representation for people with housing discrimination complaints in the Broadway Triangle neighborhood, which lies at the intersection of Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant.

“After years of effort, today’s settlement means the city will properly respond to the real needs of our diverse communities in North Brooklyn,” said Juan Ramos of the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition. “There is a long history of housing discrimination in this area, and affordable housing in the Broadway Triangle is more important than ever given the rapid gentrification and displacement of families who have lived here for generations.”

“The affordable housing development plan, combined with fair housing services in this settlement agreement, provides a strong template for other neighborhoods across the country to use when challenging racially discriminatory housing redevelopment plans,” said ECBA’s Diane L. Houk.

The Coalition is represented by ECBA attorneys Diane L. Houk and Zoe Salzman, together with the New York Civil Liberties Union and  Brooklyn Legal Services Corp. A.

Click here to read the press release.

Click here to read the settlement agreement.

Click here to read the New York Times story on the settlement.

Click here to read the New York Law Journal story on the settlement.

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ECBA Files Employment Discrimination Complaint on Behalf of Former World Trade Center Security Guard

On November 16, 2017, ECBA filed a charge of discrimination with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of Nicole Johnson, a former security professional for Allied Universal Security Services at the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan. Allied, one of the nation’s largest security firms, contracts with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to provide security services at sensitive locations including the World Trade Center and area airports.

The complaint alleges that, during her time at Allied, Ms. Johnson was subjected to a campaign of sexual harassment by a supervisor that was facilitated by Allied human resources workers who failed to act on her repeated complaints and instead disseminated rumors about her to her co-workers. As the harassment escalated, Ms. Johnson was the victim of groping, unwanted sexual touching, and a barrage of obscene and degrading comments. Ultimately, she was fired for pretextual reasons in retaliation for complaining about the culture of harassment at Allied.
ECBA also represents LaDonna Powell, a former security supervisor at JFK airport who has sued Allied for sexual harassment and violations of wage and hour laws.

WNBC’s I-Team, which previously covered Ms. Powell’s case, broadcast a followup story on Ms. Johnson’s complaint on November 21, 2017.

 

ECBA’s Elizabeth Saylor, David Lebowitz, and Alanna Kaufman represent Ms. Powell and Ms. Johnson.

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City Agrees to Pay $2.5M to Wrongly Convicted Man

New York City will pay $2.5 million to ECBA client Joel Fowler, who was wrongly convicted of a 2007 Brooklyn murder. Prosecutors under the watch of late Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson concluded in 2015 that Mr. Fowler had nothing to do with the murder. The New York Daily News covered the settlement here. This settlement is the latest of the many wrongful conviction cases that Emery Celli has settled.

ECBA attorneys Earl Ward and Ali Frick represented Mr. Fowler, along with the Law Offices of Joel B. Rudin.

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Everytown for Gun Safety Helps Beat Back Attack on Gun Control in New York State

In an important victory for gun control, ECBA client Everytown for Gun Safety helped beat back an attack on New York State’s ban on stun guns and other electronic weapons. The decision denying the preliminary injunction motion is here. Everytown for Gun Safety filed an amicus brief in support of New York State, and is represented by Gupta Wessler and ECBA lawyer Ilann M. Maazel.

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ECBA Partner Zoe Salzman Quoted on Proliferation of Sexual Harassment Cases

ECBA partner Zoe Salzman was quoted in a New York Post article on the proliferation of sexual harassment cases across different industries in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

The article explains how: “Women are incredibly afraid to come forward,” said attorney Zoe Salzman, a partner at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady. “If it’s true of Hollywood actresses like Ashley Judd and Angelina Jolie, it has to be even more true for women who don’t have the financial and personal resources that actresses have. The restaurant industry, like a lot of industries, is marked by that same power dynamic.”

Still, Salzman sees a silver lining in the Weinstein downfall: “This case is inspiring so many women, even women who are in low-income jobs [will hopefully] feel that they too can stand up and speak out,” she said. “They know now that what is happening is illegal.”

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