Now more than ever, employers are being faced with a barrage of lawsuits, whether they be wage and hour claims, claims related to COVID-19, or discrimination and retaliation claims. Lewis Johs’ Labor and Employment practice group regularly litigates these cases in all New York venues. Given Lewis Johs’ vast experience in the insurance defense space, our team is acutely aware of the risks that litigation imposes on employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) carriers. Our team has worked with carriers such as The Hartford/Maxum, Great American, and RSUI, among others, in order to develop case-specific solutions for carriers and their insureds. Our team represents employers in litigation with respect to all types of matters, including:
- COVID-19 issues, such as family/medical leave, accommodations, hiring/onboarding, furloughs/layoffs, and re-entry to workforce
- Failure to accommodate
- Harassment/hostile work environment
- Wage and hour/minimum wage/overtime/spread of hours
- Family and medical leave
- Breach of employment contracts
- Restrictive covenants/non-compete agreements/trade secrets
At Lewis Johs, we bring our extensive experience in dealing with nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, assisted living facilities, and home health care agencies for representing those entities in the labor and employment law sphere.
We are also adept at handling complaints from employees, which are filed with various administrative agencies such as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the New York State Division of Human Rights, the New York City Commission on Human Rights, the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board’s Discrimination Unit, and the New York State Department of Labor.
Recently, our team successfully represented a rehabilitation facility against a claim brought in the New York State Division of Human Rights (“NYSDHR”). The claim alleged that the facility discriminated against a former employee based on her religion. Per New York State Department of Health (“NYSDOH”) regulations, employees who could potentially expose patients or residents to COVID-19 are required to be fully vaccinated against this infectious disease. The NYSDOH regulation has been upheld by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Finding that the facility’s adherence to the NYSDOH regulations was legitimate and non-discriminatory, the NYSDHR found that there was no probable cause to believe that the facility discriminated against the employee based on her religion and dismissed the claim.
Our team also recently secured a directed verdict in a discrimination claim brought in the Discrimination Unit of the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board. The trial hearings began with claimant’s direct testimony, followed by cross-examination. During cross-examination, the claimant admitted that she had not been terminated, demoted, or otherwise negatively impacted by the employer since having filed for Workers’ Compensation benefits. At the close of cross-examination, our firm moved for a directed verdict which argued that the claimant had failed to meet her evidentiary burden to demonstrate that the employer had discriminated against her because she had filed for Workers’ Compensation benefits. After deliberation, Workers’ Compensation Law Judge Michelle Richburg issued a verbal decision granting that motion and dismissing the claim.
Here are some other representative litigation matters handled by Lewis Johs’ Labor and Employment Practice Group:
- Lawsuit by agency employee against rehabilitation and nursing center alleging race discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law. The case was resolved in its early stages.
- Administrative complaints filed by nursing home nurses with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging discriminatory terminations in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. After investigation and submission of evidence, the cases were closed and the claimants did not pursue litigation.
- Administrative complaint filed by former food service director, alleging discriminatory termination and retaliation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the New York State Human Rights Law. The case was resolved quickly during the investigative phase.
- Administrative complaint filed by youth counselor with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board’s paid family leave discrimination unit, alleging discriminatory termination and retaliation in violation of New York’s Paid Family Leave laws. The case was resolved during the investigative phase.
- Lawsuit against rehabilitation center alleging interference and retaliation in violation of FMLA, along with disparate treatment in violation of NYCHRL. The case was settled during discovery phase.
- Administrative complaint filed by recreation leader against nursing home, alleging disparate treatment and hostile work environment based on race in violation of New York State Human Rights Law. After interviewing key witnesses, analyzing relevant documents, and submitting relevant evidence, the claimant withdrew the complaint and did not pursue litigation.
- Administrative complaint filed by hospital liaison with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging wrongful termination in violation of the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act. After submission of evidence, the case was closed after conciliation attempts. The claimant did not pursue litigation.
Wage and Hour
- Lawsuit against pizzeria and its owner alleging deprivation of minimum wage and overtime, along with failure to provide yearly wage notices and failure to make required postings. The case was resolved in its early stages.