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ECBA Settles Metropolitan Museum of Art Case

A settlement has been reached in a 2013 case brought by ECBA against the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The case, Saska et al v. Metropolitan Museum of Art, challenged the Museum’s practice of charging admission fees to visitors and failing to disclose the Museum’s “pay what you wish” policy. The class action suit alleged that the Museum’s signage and online advertising mislead visitors into paying the full advertised “price” for admission to the Museum, when, in fact, the Museum’s policy is to allow visitors to pay as much or as little as they wish.

Under the settlement, which is subject to court approval, the Museum will revise its signage and online advertising to prominently describe the admission fees as “SUGGESTED” and to include the legend: “THE AMOUNT YOU PAY IS UP TO YOU.” In addition, the Museum will require third-party sellers of admission tickets to disclose the Museum’s “pay what you wish” policy, and it will direct cashiers and other Museum employees interacting with the public to explain the “pay what you wish” policy to visitors to avoid any confusion. ECBA’s Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Matthew D. Brinckerhoff, David Lebowitz, and Ted Oxholm handled the case. The lawsuit and the settlement received extensive press coverage.

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ECBA Settles Housing Discrimination Case Against Empire Management America

A federal court approved a $230,000 settlement of a housing discrimination case brought by ECBA on behalf of two non-profits and seven individuals. The plaintiffs alleged that Manhattan-based management company Empire Management America Corp., the owner, and manager of a Suffolk County apartment complex racially discriminated against African Americans. In 2014, African American and white testers went to the complex and inquired about renting apartments. The complaint alleged that the African American testers were lied to about the number of available apartments and when apartments would become available to rent in the future. The African American testers, Fair Housing Justice Center, and ERASE Racism were plaintiffs in the case. The settlement requires the defendants to provide housing discrimination training for its employees, adopt a non-discrimination policy, publicly advertise apartments for rent, and permit inspection of certain records for three years. The plaintiffs were represented by ECBA attorneys Diane L. Houk and Ted Oxholm.

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Port Authority Police Union Sues Over Searches of Officers’ Cellphones

ECBA filed suit in federal court on behalf of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Police Benevolent Association and a former police officer against the Port Authority alleging unconstitutional searches. The suit alleges that the Port Authority unlawfully seized and searched Port Authority police officers’ private cell phones during an investigation into possible criminal conduct. The searches came just months after the Supreme Court ruled in Riley v. California that searches of private cell phones implicate the Fourth Amendment, at least when those searches occur incident to arrest. The plaintiffs are represented by ECBA’s Richard D. Emery, O. Andrew F. Wilson, and Ted Oxholm.

To read the New York Times’ coverage of the filing, click here.

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Lawsuit Filed Against Suffolk County Apartment Complex for Racial Discrimination

ECBA filed suit in federal district court alleging racially discriminatory renting practices at Mayfair Garden Apartments, a 107-unit apartment complex in Suffolk County on Long Island. ERASE Racism, Inc. and the Fair Housing Justice Center worked together to send similarly qualified white and African-American testers posing as potential renters to the defendants’ property to inquire about the availability of apartments and rental terms. The tests revealed that the building superintendent treated African-American testers less favorably than white testers during 2014. ERASE Racism and the Fair Housing Justice Center are joined as plaintiffs in the suit by the African Americans testers who were discriminated against. The plaintiffs are represented by Diane L. Houk and Theodor O. Oxholm.

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