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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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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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ECBA Attorneys Published in The New York Times, “Another Venue for Sexual Harassment Claims”

Zoe Salzman, Elizabeth Saylor, and Alanna Kaufman‘s Letter to the Editor, “Another Venue for Sexual Harassment Claims,” was published in The New York Times  on October 31, 2017. In the letter, the attorneys advise victims of workplace sexual harassment to speak out and bring their case to the  New York City Commission on Human Rights.  To read The New York Times  article, click here. Salzman, Saylor, and Kaufman specialize in the representation of victims of sexual harassment.

 

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ECBA Files New Sexual Harassment Case in New York City Commission on Human Rights

ECBA filed a sexual harassment complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights today on behalf of a woman named Veronica McILraith against her employer, the legal recruiting firm Wegman Partners LLC, as well as the firm’s CEO Colby Wegman and Chairman of Partner Recruiting, Scott Legg.

According to the complaint, Ms. McILraith was “subjected to an astounding barrage of groping and sexually explicit and derogatory comments, texts, emails, and signs by her boss.”  When she complained, the company sided with the harasser, cut Ms. McILraith’s commissions, and forced her out.

Ms. McILraith filed suit in the New York City Commission on Human Rights notwithstanding Wegman’s attempt to force her into arbitration. The Commission is a powerful body that investigates complaints of discrimination and harassment in New York City. It can award individual damages and attorneys’ fees to the victims just like a court.

“No woman should have to experience this sort of disgusting sexual harassment at work,” said ECBA partner Zoe Salzman, Ms. McILraith’s attorney.  “Ms. McILraith is standing up and saying this sort of behavior has to stop. Other women are standing up. And more will follow.”

Read about the case in The New York Post and The New York Law Journal.

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Former Security Supervisor at JFK Sues for Sexual Harassment and Discrimination

On October 10, 2017, ECBA filed a federal discrimination and sexual harassment complaint on behalf of LaDonna Powell, a 32-year-old black woman formerly employed as a supervisor for Allied Universal Security Services (Allied) at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK).  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 JFK.

The lawsuit alleges that, during her four-year employment at Allied, Powell was the victim of a workplace culture dominated by sex, harassment, and abuse of female and black employees.  It alleges that Powell was forced to watch live and recorded videos of her colleagues engaging in sex acts, solicited by her supervisors for sex, and subjected to countless incidents of lewd comments and inappropriate touching.  It further alleges that Powell reported the conduct to Allied supervisors and managers, who fired her in response to her complaints.

“This was not an isolated incident of workplace harassment,” said Elizabeth Saylor, a partner at ECBA and counsel for Powell.  “This was a campaign of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation led by Allied’s top management at JFK.  And Ms. Powell was not the only victim—we’ve spoken to multiple women who say they’ve experienced the same hazing and abuse.”

Although Powell’s complaints were disregarded by Allied at the time, she hopes that her lawsuit will motivate the company to make necessary changes to its discriminatory workplace culture.

NBC’s I-Team covered the case on October 10, 2017:

To read coverage from the Daily News click here.

To view the complaint, click here.

To view the press release, click here.

ECBA’s Elizabeth Saylor and Alanna Kaufman represent the plaintiff.

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