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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.

Article

Black Intelligence Detectives Bring Federal Suit Over Bias in NYPD Promotions

September 25, 2017 ­­– The law firm of Emery Celli Brinkerhoff & Abady LLP (ECBA) and the New York Civil Liberties Union today filed a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of black detectives who were denied promotions for years within the elite Intelligence Division of the NYPD. For well over a decade the division has maintained a subjective promotions policy, administered by white supervisors, who refuse to promote deserving black detectives.

“Minority communities have for decades distrusted the NYPD, and for good reason,” said Elizabeth Saylor, a partner at ECBA and lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “Pervasive discrimination against black detectives only deepens that distrust. The NYPD’s discriminatory culture needs to change.”

The lead plaintiffs in the case are Jon McCollum and Roland Stephens, as well as Sara Coleman, widow of Theodore Coleman. The three detectives each joined the Intelligence Division in 2001 and assisted with the cleanup and investigation of the September 11 attacks. They tracked hundreds of leads and suspects. In spite of their achievements and strong recommendations from their direct supervisors, they were repeatedly passed up for promotion because of their race.

Read the EEOC charge here,  and the EEOC finding here. Also, read the DOJ Right to Sue letter here, the federal complaint here, and a press release here.

To read recent coverage of these detectives’ experiences in NYPD Intel, click here for a news article by New York Times, here for an editorial by the Times, here for ABC, here for Spectrum NY1, here for the NY Daily News, and here for the NY Post.

ECBA’s Elizabeth SaylorEarl Ward, and Jessica Clarke, along with Chris Dunn with the NYCLU, represent Sara Coleman, the widow of Detective Theodore Coleman, and Detectives Jon McCollum and Roland Stephens.

Article

EEOC Finds NYPD Intel Division Discriminated Against Black Detectives; Sessions’ Justice Department Refuses to File Suit

On March 4, 2016, the EEOC determined that the Intelligence Division, one of the most elite and prestigious divisions within the NYPD, discriminates against African-American detectives. Specifically, it found that “black detectives in general, received lesser and later opportunities for promotion consistent with their qualifications.” Former Intel Detectives Jon McCollum, Roland Stephens, and Theodore Coleman, represented by ECBA and the NYCLU, initiated complaints with the EEOC that led to this determination. For five years, the EEOC reviewed data and interviewed countless witnesses before reaching this conclusion. The EEOC then transferred the case to Justice Department, which, under Jeff Sessions’ leadership, refused to file suit.

To read the New York Times’ recent coverage of these detectives’ experiences in NYPD Intel, click here.

ECBA’s Elizabeth Saylor, Earl Ward, Eisha Jain, and Jessica Clarke, along with Chris Dunn with the NYCLU, represent Sara Coleman, the widow of Detective Theodore Coleman, and Detectives Jon McCollum and Roland Stephens.

Article

ECBA Files Charge of Discrimination on Behalf of Woman Fired Because She Was Pregnant

Emery Celli Brinkerhoff & Abady and A Better Balance, a national legal advocacy organization, today filed a charge with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that Savers, a company that operates hundreds of retail stores nationwide, fired Betzaida Cruz Cardona because she was pregnant. The charge alleges that Savers fired Ms. Cruz, a cashier in the company’s Henrietta, New York store, just days after she announced her pregnancy and on the same day that she brought in a doctor’s note stating that she could not lift over 25 pounds due to her pregnancy. Savers terminated her even though Ms. Cruz never did heavy lifting in the store, and lifting was not part of her job description. According to the charge, Savers’ actions violate federal and state pregnancy and disability anti-discrimination laws. The charge also alleges that Savers, and its subsidiaries, have engaged in a pattern and practice of pregnancy discrimination. Ms. Cruz is represented by ECBA attorney Elizabeth S. Saylor and A Better Balance attorneys Dina Bakst and Jake McDonald.

To read a copy of the charge click here. To read the press release click here. A New York Times article concerning a prior pregnancy discrimination case against Savers is available  here. To read Democrat and Chronicle’s coverage click here and  here. To read Think Progress’ coverage click here.

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