The fact is, lawsuit s relating to employment issues are more common than ever these days. From small, local companies, to major, global corporations, many businesses are accepting the idea that it is only a matter of time before a claim is asserted.
Employees who have been wronged or discriminated against have the right to damages, including damages for emotional distress. This may occur as a result of harassment or discrimination, manifesting in significant discomfort, embarrassment, anxiety, and depression. Emotional distress often causes an employee’s performance to suffer, may make them lose sleep, and can even affect physical health issues. To prove the existence of emotional distress, and to prove that it caused significant trauma, you may need to enlist family, friends, and mental health professionals to provide testimony. It can be difficult to determine the monetary value of emotional damages, as federal discrimination laws place certain caps on the amount plaintiffs can seek. However, you may be able to secure larger financial compensation for emotional distress, depending on state and local statutes.
It is extremely difficult to find the justice you are seeking without the assistance of an experienced employment lawyer. Keep reading to learn the most common employment law trends right now, and contact one of our New York employment law attorneys if you are considering filing a suit against an employer.
Failure to Hire Lawsuits
Recently, the EEOC has given increased attention to prospective employees who have alleged that they have been rejected for discriminatory reasons. This type of case is referred to as a “failure to hire” case.
Once an employer rejects an applicant or candidate they tend to forget about them fairly quickly, but the reality is that that person has a statutory period of time to file a claim if he/she believes the reason he/she wasn’t hired was because of a protected characteristic covered by the federal, New York State or New York City human rights law. The renewed interest in failure to hire cases has resulted in the EEOC revisiting what employers are doing in terms of recruiting, publishing job opportunities, what’s included on job applications, what’s being asked during the interview process, etc. as part of its efforts to eliminate discriminatory barriers in recruitment and hiring.
The “Me Too” movement has opened the floodgates for women and men to pursue sexual harassment claims against employers for a range of inappropriate behavior. Various kinds of misconduct can now be used as grounds in sexual harassment suits, with claimants filing for increasingly significant damages.
Increased Focus on Preventing Sexual Harassment
The “Me Too” movement has resulted in new regulations being implemented for employers in an effort to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. In New York, employers, regardless of size, most implement a written anti-sexual harassment policy and conduct annual sexual harassment training just to name a few. While employers may be thinking a claim will never happen to them, they don’t want to spend the money or no one will notice if they do not implement these policies and procedures, their failure to comply with the law will certainly come back to haunt them in defending against a suit.
Disability Class Actions
Another major risk to American employers at the moment is discrimination against the disabled. In fact, persons with disabilities are the biggest minority and fast growing in America. Companies that violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) face a high probability of paying out large settlements. Plaintiffs’ attorneys are increasingly pursuing these cases in multiple areas.
For instance, company websites that are not readily accessible to the deaf and blind are now vulnerable to legal action, as more claimants allege employers are not making certain positions available to everybody. While accessibility was once synonymous with physical space, these connotations have changed with the rise of the Internet, making digital spaces subject to oversight as well.
There has also been a rise in lawsuits against smaller businesses which put the disabled at a greater risk because of their space. Many class actions have been filed in the last year claiming retail shops and local stores are not in compliance with the ADA, with lawyers attempting to hold renters and owners of these spaces accountable for their lack of accessibility. Take New York, in which there were 400 ADA lawsuits filed last year related to the accessibility of small businesses in the city alone.
More Regulations, More Compliance Suits
While employers across the country must adhere to federal regulations, there are now more state regulations than ever which companies have to follow, too.
For instance, many states have specific protections in place for LGBTQ workers. While some state laws are fairly broad when it comes to discrimination, many employers must now contend with regulations tied to issues like pronoun use and bathroom access as well. Some states have less regulations related to these concerns, but in others, employers can face serious legal actions for failing to comply with state standards.
Recently, some states have even gone beyond race, sexual orientation, and gender to regulate discrimination. In California, for instance, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against an employer for being prejudiced against a certain body type.
More Suits, More Settlements—But Not Necessarily More Money
In 2018, the Supreme Court continued its recent trend of reviewing more cases overall, including issuing more rulings related to complex employment litigation and class-action suits. While the Court’s rulings were not always pro-worker, plaintiffs continued to see significant victories in workplace litigation, winning 196 of 248 conditional certification rulings (79%), and losing only 13 of 25 decertification rulings (52%). This also continues a trend of more employment suits being filed across the board, with The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission bringing 199 lawsuits in 2018, up from 184 in 2017 and 86 in 2016.
Yet while employment lawsuits in general may be on the rise, the amount of compensation being handed down appears to be decreasing. The top 10 settlements in various employment-related class-action areas numbered $1.32 billion in 2018, compared to $2.72 billion in 2017 and 1.75 billion in 2016. If this trend continues, it will be more important than ever to hire an attorney with the knowledge and resources necessary to advocate for maximum compensation on your behalf.
Protect Your Rights, Hire a Skilled Lawyer Today
At Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP, our legal professionals have over 110 years of collective experience fighting for clients. From age discrimination, to pregnancy discrimination, to religious discrimination, to racial discrimination, to sexual harassment, we focus on defending workers whose rights have been compromised. For over 3 decades, we have been helping the people of New York seek the justice they deserve and achieve success in court. Don’t let your employer get away with discrimination. Contact Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP today, and hire an employment law firm that will always be on your side.
To schedule a consultation, call (646) 490-0221 now, or contact us online anytime.