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Discrimination & Harassment

Almost 50 years after Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, making discrimination in employment unlawful, bias against women, older workers, racial and ethnic minorities, and disabled workers is still widespread in the workforce. Unlawful and unfair discrimination may be more subtle than it was in the past, but it endures. For example:

  • women working full time making only 77 cents for each dollar men earn in similar jobs;
  • white employees are twice as likely to get management jobs as equally qualified black employees;
  • full-time employees with disabilities earn $6,100 per year, on average, less than full-time employees who don't have disabilities; and
  • one in four women report workforce harassment.

The attorneys at Beranbaum Menken LLP have over 20 years of experience fighting workplace discrimination and retaliation. We have obtained significant settlements and jury verdicts (including two seven-figure jury verdicts) on behalf employees who were discriminated against and harassed at work.

Employment discrimination and unlawful harassment take many forms. The following are some of the more prevalent types of discrimination and harassment claims in which we represent people. For more information, you can also visit our or visit our Frequently Asked Questions about Disability Discrimination, Frequently Asked Questions about Disability Discrimination, and Frequently Asked Questions about Harassment.

Disability Discrimination

Disability discrimination is also unlawful under federal and local anti-discrimination laws. Beranbaum Menken has a long and proud history of representing the rights of people with disabilities (and people “regarded as” disabled by their employers).

Read more about Beranbaum Menken’s work with victims of disability discrimination, visit our Frequently Asked Questions about Disability Discrimination, or contact us if you believe you have been the victim of disability discrimination.

Race Discrimination

While many believe that race discrimination is no longer a prevalent problem in our society, many of our clients know otherwise. While the days of overt racist epithets are largely (though by no means entirely) over, race discrimination persists. For example, African American employees with no criminal records continue to be less likely to be hired than white employees, with the same experience, who do have criminal record. Similarly, minority employees are often disciplined much more harshly than their white counterparts, often as a result of unfair stereotyping.

Beranbaum Menken LLP has a deep commitment to combating race discrimination in the workplace. Among the many race discrimination claims we have litigated was one (link: kim v. dial) in which we obtained a $1.7 million dollar verdict (remitted by the court to $545,000 plus legal fees) on behalf of a Korean-American employee against a Japanese-based company. In another case (link Gaffney), the firm co-counseled two actions successfully representing three African American employees against the City of New York. 

Unlawful Harassment

Federal and local anti-discrimination laws also outlaw harassment based on age, disability, sex and gender, and race. 

Beranbaum Menken LLP has substantial experience representing victims of sexual harassment and other unlawful harassment, and has successfully pursued significant litigation in this area, including one case (link: ferris) in which the court clarified what constituted a “work environment” for hostile work environment purposes, holding that the hotel room where a flight attendant was allegedly raped by a co-worker during layover constituted part of her Awork environment.” In another case (link: Traynham 2007), the firm won a victory for a corrections officer by obtaining a stipulation requiring the Bureau of Prisons to remove the alleged harasser from the victims work environment.

If you feel that you are being harassed or subjected to a hostile working environment based on a protected category (like race, age, disability or gender), contact us or visit our Frequently Asked Questions about Harassment.

Sex & Gender Discrimination

Discriminating against employees because of their gender is unlawful under federal and New York State and City laws. “Discrimination” is generally defined as treating, say, female employees less favorably than male employees in the “terms and condition” of their employment. For example, some companies tend to pay women less than men for substantially the same work, or to pigeonhole them into stereotypically “feminine” jobs and preventing them from receiving promotions. Sometimes the discrimination is less overt – perhaps excluding women from high-powered meetings or refusing to give them the important, career-making assignments.

Pregnancy discrimination is also a form of gender discrimination. When employers assume that a pregnant woman will give up on her career or isn’t as committed as other employees, that employer is engaging in illegal sex discrimination. Similarly, when employers assumes that mothers aren’t dedicated to their jobs or won’t be able to make the time commitments the job requires, they are also engaging in sex discrimination.

Beranbaum Menken LLP has achieved notable victories representing women in sex and pregnancy discrimination cases.

These include (link: TSE) a $3.5 million jury verdict against an investment bank on behalf of a female stock broker, ultimately remitted to six figures by the district court. In another case (link: intl healthcare v Global), we were able to defeat summary judgment by showing that a reasonable jury could find that a female executive, who was assigned menial tasks and sexually stereotyped as a Agirl Friday@ despite having a law degree and substantial business experience, was discriminated against. In another case (link: Brennan) brought by the firm, the client was a long-time administrative assistant to the Commissioner of Public Affairs, who asserted that she was discriminated against when the City did not even consider her for a vacant Deputy Commissioner position, although she was already doing many of the positions job duties. Here, too, the plaintiff was successful in prosecuting the client=s discrimination and retaliation claims.

While there is currently no federal prohibition on sexual-orientation discrimination, such discrimination has been outlawed in New York City since 1986, and throughout the state since 2003. The attorneys at Beranbaum Menken have the skills experience in discrimination law to vigorously enforce the civil rights so recently gained by LBGT individuals, and to advocate for those rights not yet attained.

If you believe you have been the victim of discrimination based on sex, gender, pregnancy or sexual orientation, contact us to schedule a consultation.

Age Discrimination

In these tough economic times, older workers are often the first to be let go and the last to be hired. Federal and local laws have prohibited discrimination against individuals 40 years and older based on their age, and it is illegal to terminate, fail to hire or fail to promote an individual because of their age. This is one of the least well-known anti-discrimination laws, but it is one of the most important. Everyone gets older, and everyone has the right to continue working without worrying that they will be unfairly targeted or stereotyped. 

Beginning with McNulty (link), where the firm successfully represented a 60-year old Director of Personnel who was laid off by City and the not rehired, Beranbaum Menken has been representing older workers victimized by age bias. We are currently litigating a nation-wide collective action, where we represent 13 older workers terminated by one of the world’s leading freight logistics company, Mainfreight, Inc. In another case, we are suing JPMorgan Chase for keeping out a 58-year old worker from a management training program because of his age and then retaliating against him when he complained of discrimination. The firm is also prosecuting several age discrimination actions before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

If you believe you have been the victim of age discrimination contact us to schedule a consultation.