ECBA continues to play a role in seeking justice for Bakari Henderson, the young African American college graduate beaten to death in Greece. To watch a recent CBS interview with ECBA attorneys Jonathan S. Abady and Earl S. Ward, click here.
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.
On October 18, 2017, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington presented oral argument in their landmark Emoluments Clause lawsuit against Donald Trump before Judge George B. Daniels of the Southern District of New York. Sarah P. Chayes of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, on whose behalf ECBA filed an amicus curiae brief in support of CREW, was interviewed by Rachel Maddow on October 20, 2017. The interview featured Chayes’s analysis of the case and of oral argument and excerpts from ECBA’s brief. CREW’s Second Amended Complaint is available here. Chayes’s amicus brief is available here. Chayes’s interview with Maddow is available here. The New York Times, the Washington Post, and Slate, among other outlets, covered the recent argument.
This week, the New York Law Journal published a two-part column by ECBA Founder Richard Emery addressing the persistent issue of judges who use the power and prestige of their office to benefit themselves and others.
In part one, Emery discusses the problematic trend of the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct’s decisions on this matter. In his review of recent cases, Emery demonstrates the Commissions’ troubling leniency in disciplining judges using their office for personal benefit. He argues that this inability to properly address and punish this misconduct not only sets a dangerous precedent for judges, but also damages public perceptions of judicial integrity.
In part two, Emery focuses on precedents set by the Court of Appeals in judicial discipline cases. Tracing precedents set in recent decades, Emery ends his review with an encouraging analysis of the Matter of Ayres, a case from this month that signals the Court of Appeals’ increasing lack of tolerance for judge misconduct that threatens the public’s confidence in the judiciary. The decision bolsters Emery’s view that despite the need for some constraints on the investigation and discipline of judges, these individuals must still be bound to the strictest standards of conduct.
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.”
On October 25, 2017, Governor Andrew Cuomo, ECBA founder Richard Emery, and Barry Diller announced an agreement that would revive the construction of Diller Island, a performing arts center off of pier 55 in the Hudson River. In response to the new agreement, Richard Emery stated: ““On behalf of the plaintiffs City Club, Tom Fox and Rob Buchanan, the completion of Hudson River Park and the protection of the Estuary have always been of utmost importance to the entire environmental, civic and preservation community. Today’s historic commitment by Governor Cuomo to finish the Park and protect the Estuary is a great victory for park users and all New Yorkers. In that spirit, we will not litigate against Pier 55 and will work with the Governor to realize his visionary plan for completion of the Hudson River Park and for protection of the Hudson River.”
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.
On October 4, 2017, ECBA and co-counsel Romano & Kuan PLLC filed a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of presumptively innocent criminal defendants held for hours or days in New York City jails despite being entitled to release on bail. The complaint alleges that the City has been deliberately indifferent to the problem of unreasonable systemic delays in accepting bail payments and in processing detainees for release once bail is posted. The suit details a Kafka-esque system where antiquated technology, inadequate staffing, and indifference conspire to keep thousands of New Yorkers each year in jail for hours or days without any legal basis.
To read the complaint, click here.
To read coverage of the lawsuit in the New York Daily News, click here.
ECBA is proud to announce that partners Richard Emery, Andrew Celli, Matthew Brinckerhoff, Jonathan Abady, Ilann Maazel, Earl Ward, Hal Lieberman, Dan Kornstein, Andrew Wilson, and Elizabeth Saylor were named as Super Lawyers for 2017. Associate Alanna Kaufman was named as a Rising Star. The Super Lawyers list is issued by Thompson Reuters. A description of the selection methodology can be found here.
On behalf of their clients the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) and three African American testers, ECBA attorneys Diane L. Houk and Alanna Kaufman negotiated the largest settlement that FHJC has ever obtained in the private rental market for a race, color, and source of income discrimination case. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleged that Defendants Kosova Properties, Inc., Mulliner & Properties, Inc., Burr Properties LLC, Dardania Properties LLC, Nezaj Realty LLC, and Hamdi Nezaj were discriminating on the basis of race, color, and source of income. Kosova Properties manages nineteen buildings with more than 350 rental units in the Bronx and Manhattan.
The case settled for $620,000 plus extensive injunctive relief for FHJC, three African American testers, and one home-seeker represented by Mobilization for Justice.
See more here.