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ECBA Partner Zoe Salzman Quoted in Law360

ECBA Partner Zoe Salzman was quoted in a Law360 article discussing the impact of a new case holding that New York’s CPLR 7515 does not prohibit arbitration of sexual harassment claims. “It’s just a fact when there’s an arbitration clause in an employment discrimination dispute, the company gets to keep that dispute out of the public eye,” Salzman said. “This may be the only decision analyzing 7515, but it’s not the only decision that reads arbitration clauses very broadly in a very pro-employer way, and in a way that greatly undermines the ability of employees to vindicate their rights and to protect other employees from future discrimination.” But Salzman noted that legal arguments can still be made in support of the statute and that public sentiment is moving away from the use of arbitration pacts. “I think there is a shift going on right now and the state legislatures are saying very strongly what I think the people of the state are saying very strongly — which is that they think those agreements are unconscionable and against public policy and they don’t want to see them,” Salzman said.

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ECBA Wins DNA Motion in Sexual Assault Case

ECBA won a landmark ruling in Breest v. Haggis. ECBA represents a young woman named Haleigh Breest in a case alleging that she was raped and sexually assaulted by the director Paul Haggis. In a legal filing, Haggis swore under oath that he had not had intercourse with Breest. But he refused to give a sample of his DNA to compare to the sample left in Breest’s tights. Justice Robert R. Reed of the New York Supreme Court ruled that Haggis had to provide his DNA because, if it matched the DNA on the tights, it could help prove Breest’s claim of rape and rebut Haggis’s denial of intercourse. “This is an important decision by the court. We believe it is the first case of the #MeToo era to order disclosure of DNA evidence,” said Breest’s lawyer, Zoe Salzman.

The decision can be found here.

Read more about Justice Reed’s decision granting the DNA sample here and here.

ECBA attorneys Jonathan S. Abady, Ilann M. Maazel, Zoe Salzman, and Emma Freeman represent the plaintiff Haleigh Breest.

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Have you been affected by sexual abuse at Ohio State?

If so, please call us at 212-763-5042, email ohiosurvivors@ecbalaw.com, or use this form.

ECBA represents almost 70 survivors of sexual abuse by OSU doctor Richard Strauss. While employed by Ohio State, Dr. Strauss is believed to have abused hundreds and even thousands of Ohio State students, over a period of decades. Ilann M. Maazel and Debra Greenberger at ECBA are co-counseling the case with attorneys Adele Kimmel at Public Justice in Washington, D.C., and Scott Smith in Columbus, Ohio. The case is captioned Snyder-Hill, et al. v. The Ohio State University, 18-CV-00736, in federal court in Columbus.

A May 15, 2019 report reveals OSU’s complete failure to protect its students. The report found: “Despite the persistence, seriousness, and regularity of complaints” of sexual abuse from students since 1979, “no meaningful action was taken by the University to investigate the concerns until January 1996.” Even then, officials at the highest levels of the University kept Strauss as a tenured faculty member until 1998, gave him an emeritus appointment in 1998, did not inform any students that Strauss was a sexual predator, and permitted Strauss to run ads in the University newspaper about his off-campus private men’s clinic for OSU students and others

This major national news story has been covered by, among others, People, U.S. News & World Report, Fox Sports, and Yahoo! Sports.

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Report Confirms that, For Decades, OSU Ignored Complaints that Dr. Strauss Was Abusing Male Students

Investigators from Perkins Coie, the law firm hired by The Ohio State University’s Special Counsel to investigate widespread reports of sexual abuse by Dr. Richard Strauss, write in a May 17, 2019 report that “Despite the persistence, seriousness, and regularity of [] complaints” of sexual abuse from students since 1979, “no meaningful action was taken by the University to investigate the concerns until January 1996.” Even then, officials at the highest levels of the University kept Strauss as a tenured faculty member until 1998, gave him an emeritus appointment in 1998, did not inform any students that Strauss was a sexual predator, and permitted Strauss to run ads in the University newspaper about his off-campus private men’s clinic for OSU students and others.  Ilann M. Maazel and Debra Greenberger at ECBA are co-counseling a case against OSU on behalf of dozens of survivors with attorneys Adele Kimmel at Public Justice in Washington, D.C., and Scott Smith in Columbus, Ohio. The Perkins Coie report is available here .

 

If you are a survivor, please email ohiosurvivors@ecbalaw.com or call Ilann Maazel or Debra Greenberger at 212-763-5000.

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Firm Joins Massive Ohio State University Sex Abuse Case

ECBA has joined as plaintiffs’ counsel in the Ohio State University sex abuse case, representing dozens of survivors of sexual abuse by OSU doctor Richard Strauss. While employed by Ohio State, Dr. Strauss is believed to have abused hundreds and even thousands of Ohio State students, over a period of decades. Ilann M. Maazel and Debra Greenberger at ECBA are co-counseling the case with attorneys Adele Kimmel at Public Justice in Washington, D.C., and Scott Smith in Columbus, Ohio. The case is captioned Snyder-Hill, et al. v. The Ohio State University, 18-CV-00736, in federal court in Columbus.

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Haggis Abandons Case against Haleigh Breest

Late yesterday, director Paul Haggis abandoned his lawsuit against Haleigh Breest. A lower court dismissed Haggis’ case on August 14, 2018, and Haggis quietly dropped his appeal yesterday.

Though the Haggis case against Ms. Breest is over, Ms. Breest’s sexual assault case against Mr. Haggis continues.

Read more about the case here, here, and here.

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ECBA Wins Landmark Ruling in Rape and Gender Motivated Violence Case

ECBA won a landmark ruling allowing a case for rape to proceed under New York City’s Victims of Gender Motivated Violence Protection Act. Justice Robert R. Reed denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss the case, holding that the complaint properly alleged all the elements of the claim.

The New York City Council passed the Act in 2000 to create a private right of action for victims of “gender motivated crimes of violence” like sexual assault and rape to sue their abusers in civil court. The Act also extends the statute of limitations to bring such cases to 7 years. Justice Reed’s ruling gives real meaning to the City’s Act and makes it a powerful and much needed tool for victims of sexual misconduct to seek justice in the courts.

The case is Breest v. Haggis, No. 161137/2017 (N.Y. Sup. Ct.).

ECBA attorneys Jonathan S. Abady, Ilann M. Maazel, and Zoe Salzman represent the plaintiff.

Read more about the case herehere, here, and here.

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#HimToo: Porter Files Sexual Harassment Complaint Against Upper West Side Building with New York City Commission on Human Rights

ECBA filed a complaint with New York City’s Human Rights Commission on behalf of Hairo Olivares, an Upper West Side porter at 315 Riverside Drive, alleging years of sexual harassment by the building superintendent and manager. The complaint alleges, among other things, that the superintendent grabbed Mr. Olivares’s crotch and buttocks and made him an ongoing target of harassment and humiliation. ECBA’s Ilann M. Maazel and Emma L. Freeman represent Mr. Olivares.

To learn more, read coverage from the NY Daily News here.

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ECBA Client LaDonna Powell Profiled on This American Life

The firm’s client LaDonna Powell was profiled in this week’s This American Life.  To listen, click here.  LaDonna and many others were sexually harassed while working at JFK for Allied security.  The podcast describes in detail how she fought back against this harassment.  Elizabeth Saylor, Alanna Kaufman, and David Lebowitz represent Ms. Powell and three other Allied employers who were discriminated against.  To read the amended complaint, click here.

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ECBA Files Employment Discrimination Charge Against NYS Justice Center on Behalf of Patricia Gunning

On May 29, 2018, ECBA filed a charge of discrimination with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of Patricia Gunning, a former Special Prosecutor/Inspector General at the NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. In the charge, Ms. Gunning alleges that James Kiyonaga, who served as Acting Executive Director and Executive Deputy Director during her years at the Justice Center, engaged in a pattern of sexual discrimination and sexual favoritism, creating a hostile work environment. The charge alleges that when Ms. Gunning complained about the abuse, she was retaliated against, leading to her termination. Mr. Kiyonaga currently serves at Executive Deputy Commissioner of the Office of People with Developmental Disabilites.

For more information, read coverage from the New York Post, Times Union, and NY Daily News.

Patricia Gunning is represented by Richard D. Emery, Ilann M. Maazel, and Debra Greenberger.

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