Tag Archive: St. John’s Law

Mar 30

Title VII at 50 Symposium – THIS WEEK!

The Center for Labor and Employment and the Labor Relations and Employment Law Society would like to invite any interested students or colleagues to the Title VII at 50 Symposium Conference, which takes place this week on April 4 and 5, 2014.

This program is presented in conjunction with the St. John’s Law Review, the Journal for Civil Rights and Economic Development and the St. John’s Journal of International and Comparative Law, the NYU Center for Labor and Employment Law, The Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development, and the St. John’s Center of International and Comparative Law.

This two-day symposium commemorates Title VII and featuring panelists and speakers who will assess the past, present and future of Title VII. Please see the attached program for the events schedule and speakers.

This is an amazing learning and networking opportunity for those interested in labor or employment law, and we encourage any interested party to attend. Please feel free to distribute the program and this email to any groups you are a member of. Scholarships and prizes will be awarded at this event.

The conference is free of charge and open to all, but please RSVP to Paula Edwards at (718) 990-6653 or clel@stjohns.edu.

We hope to see you in attendance at one or both days of the conference.

More Information: http://www.stjohns.edu/about/events/school-law-title-vii-50-two-day-symposium
Program – Title VII at 50 Symposium – 3-27-14

Mar 03

Events and Photo’s – Distinguished Speaker Series

On February 19, 2014, the Center for Labor and Employment Law hosted a Distinguished Speaker Series event- A Conversation with Harry I. Johnson, III, member of the National Labor Relations Board. This
event was held in the Mattone Family Atrium, where Mr. Johnson was joined by students, alumni and friends to tell about his experience and perspective on his role at the National Labor Relations Board. Mr. Johnson was introduced by alumni and former co-presidents of the LRELS, Sean Conroy ’95 and Michael Masri ’95. Students at the event felt that this was one of the best events and most engaging speaker series that they have attended in law school. Mr. Johnson spoke about recent decisions including cases on social media and employee handbook, and the tremendous workload of cases for the agency. Law student Josephine McGrath ’15 said, “the content and presentation of the speech was fascinating and gave an inside view of the challenges that the NLRB navigates.” Dinner at Alberto’s followed the event and the students in attendance were able to speak with Mr. Johnson and other alumni guests.

The next morning, Mr. Johnson addressed Professor Gregory’s labor law class, which started with the presentation of Professor Gregory’s labor law book. Mr. Johnson taught the class before returning to his busy schedule in Washington DC. Overall, this visit was a great learning opportunity and an amazing chance for students to get an inside view of the workings of the NLRB. Thank you to Mr. Johnson and Mr. Conroy for visiting us and we hope to have you back soon!

Click through the photo gallery to view photos from the event.

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Feb 20

What’s New With the CLEL – Spring Update

The Center for Labor and Employment works closely with the Labor Relations and Employment Law Society at St. John’s. The LRELS is the student-run arm of the Center and is headed by President May Mansour ‘14, Co-Vice Presidents Sarah Mannix ‘15 and Rich Berrios ‘14, Treasurer Monica Hincken ’14 and Secretary Samantha Kimmel ‘15. Next year, Cynthia Vella ’16 and Stephen Halouvas ’15 will join the board. In addition to the many opportunities offered by he LRELS and the Center for Labor and Employment, there are several exciting events taking place this semester.

The first event was a Distinguished Speaker Series, A Conversation with Harry I. Johnson III, a former partner at Arent Fox and a current NLRB Member appointed by President Obama. This event took place on February 19 and Mr. Johnson joined Professor Gregory’s labor law class on February 20 as well to give a speech about recent NLRB decisions, the decision making process and how the agency operates. Mr. Johnson graciously spoke to the attendees and provided fascinating and entertaining insights into the NRLB. (Stay tuned for pictures of the event!)

Next up, he Center for Labor and Employment will co-host a symposium entitled Title VII at 50, with NYU Law School, The Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development and the Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development, on April 4-5, 2014. 2014 is the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the programs will celebrate the evolution of Title VII over the years and the current state of the law. In attendance will be some of our most distinguished alumni as well as very prominent academics and practicing attorneys in the field. Some of the presenters will include: Paulette Brown, President-Elect of the ABA; Amanda Jaret ’13, Law Fellow AFL-CIO; Samuel Estreicher, Director of the Center for Labor and Employment Law at New York University; as well as other NLRB directors, and Professors. Over Friday and Saturday there will be roundtables and panel discussions covering a variety of topics including Professor Gregory’s forthcoming paper, “Past as Prologue in the Affirmative Action Jurisprudence of the Supreme Court: Reflections on Fisher v. University of Texas.” The conference will be an exploration of the living history of Title VII while looking ahead to what the next fifty years will bring. The winners of the inaugural Edwards Wildman Palmer Prize and the 2014 Coca-Cola Refreshments Scholar will be announced at the conference.

There are many opportunities to get involved with the Center for Labor and Employment and the Labor Relations and Employment Law Society. Please follow the TWEN page or visit stjclelblog.org to stay updated on the happenings and scholarship opportunities.

Jan 10

Announcements!

The first general body meeting of the Labor Relations and Employment Law Society will be Tuesday January 14 at 5:30 pm in room 2M-01. We have election results and be discussing our events for this semester including several panel discussions, distinguished speakers and the Title VII at 50 Symposium. Any student with an interest is encouraged to come and get involved! Make sure to add us on TWEN to get email updates for meetings and events!

Any student who wishes to speak with Professor Gregory about career opportunities must attend this meeting. Please see this memo outlining the requirements and priority for meetings with him! Don’t forget your computer and resume!
labor law society general meeting january 14 2014 -2

Any student who received a grade of C or below in the fall semester 2013 Employment Law or Employment Discrimination class is welcome to review their exam beginning the week of Tuesday, January 21. All other students may review their exams beginning the week of Monday, January 27. To make an appointment for a review, please contact Ms. Paula Edwards, after January 2 (edwardsp@stjohns.edu; 718 990 6653.)

Check out the scholarship page for newly updated scholarships and summer opportunities!

Oct 26

15th Annual Worker’s Rights Conference

On October 25th and 26th, I had the privilege of attending the Peggy Browning Fund’s 15th Annual National Law Students Worker’s Rights Conference in Linthicum Heights, Maryland.  The event brought together law students across the country interested in the future of workers’ rights. The conference gave a greater understanding of the issues facing American workers, and was an opportunity to network with fellow students, and top practitioners in the field.

On Friday evening, conference attendees were treated to a showing of Trash Dance.  The film explored an artist’s organization of sanitation workers in Austin, Texas for a performance piece.  After the film, students offered opinions about the film’s metaphors for worker organization.

On Saturday morning, AFL-CIO General Counsel and former NLRB Member Craig Becker delivered the conference’s keynote address.  Mr. Becker reflected on his own experiences when speaking about unions’ future challenges.  He also offered insights into labor cases on the Supreme Court’s current docket and organized labor’s reception of the Affordable Care Act.

Students then participated in workshops that covered various salient issues. I attended three different workshops, all led by prominent figures in organized labor. Dennis Walsh, Regional Director of Region 4 of the NLRB, discussed the NLRA’s nuances in “Introduction to Basic Labor Law”. Fred Feinstein, former General Counsel to the NLRB, detailed how anti-union consultants grew from cottage industry to well-oiled machine in “Future of Worker Mobilization”. Baldwin Robertson, partner of Woodley & McGillivary, summarized issues facing state and municipal union members in “Public Sector Labor Law”.

In the plenary session on Saturday afternoon, panelists Leon Dayan, Jessica Robinson, and Peggy Shorey summarized new assaults on collective bargaining rights in the states, including new right-to-work initiatives and movements to end dues check-offs.  In closing remarks, Dennis Walsh, Marley Weiss and Joe Lurie thanked all conference organizers for their hard work in putting together the engaging and educational programming. It was my pleasure to represent St. John’s University School of Law at the conference.  The Peggy Browning Fund’s programs contribute greatly to the labor law community, and I was fortunate to be a part of this year’s conference.

Panelists (L to R): Peggy Shorey, Leon Dayan, Jessica Robinson, and Matthew Ginsburg.

Panelists (L to R): Peggy Shorey, Leon Dayan, Jessica Robinson, and Matthew Ginsburg.

Sep 18

FLSA Update: New Rule Expands Coverage to Home Care Workers

Photo Credit: VA

Photo Credit: VA

Yesterday, the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced the final version of a rule that will expand the coverage provided by the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  Under the new rule, home care workers will be protected by the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the FLSA.[1]  Although home care workers whose primary role is to provide companionship to the patient remain exempt from the provisions, the expansion of coverage is expected to bring approximately 2 million additional workers under the coverage umbrella.[2]

Already, both sides of the issue have expressed opinions on why the expanded coverage either will or will not be a good thing in the long run.  Proponents of the new rule have highlighted the fact that a large number of workers who were traditionally underpaid for the services and hours they provided may now have an opportunity to earn a fair salary.[3]  Opponents of the new rule warn of “unintended consequences” that will result from requiring the payment of minimum wage and, in particular, overtime.[4]  They believe that one potential consequence will be the creation of an underground industry within the home health care industry comprised of workers who do not have proper training.[5]

The new rule takes effect January 1, 2015.[6]  Between now and then, the DOL will work with stakeholders in the industry, including the agencies who employ home care workers, home care workers, and patients, on implementation.[7]  More information, including fact sheets and details about upcoming webinars, are available at a special DOL website, which can be accessed here.


[1] United States Department of Labor, Minimum wage, overtime protections extended to direct care workers by US Department of Labor, September 17, 2013, available at http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/whd/WHD20131922.htm.

[2] Id.

[3] Bryce Covert, Why It Matters That Home Care Workers Just Got New Labor Rights, Think Progress, September 17, 2013, available at http://www.thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/09/17/2634411/home-care-workers-rule-change.

[4] Angela Gonzales, New ruling on home care workers could mean bigger bills for consumers, Phoenix Business Journal, September 17, 2013, available at http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/blog/health-care-daily/2013/09/new-ruling-on-home-care-workers-could.html.

[5] Id.

[6] Department of Labor, supra at note 1.

[7] Id.

Sep 17

Management Lawyer’s Colloquium

A distinguished panel of alumni and guests joined the CLEL and the LRELS for a spirited and engaging panel on current issues in management-side employment law. Scholarships winners were announced. Congratulations to May Mansour ’14 and Eugene Ubawike ’15 for taking home the Cesar Chavez Memorial Prize and the Alan C. Becker Memorial Prize from Jackson Lewis LLP. The panelists included: Daniel Costello ’99, Vanessa Delaney ’12, Christopher Kurtz ’03, Craig Roberts ’97, Ana Shields ’03, Richard Zuckerman, Natalia Torres, Robert Lafferty, and David Marshall.

The panel discussion ranged from career advice to privacy rights and the implications of the Affordable Care Act.

The panelists spoke about their career paths and what has made them successful in the field. The panelists viewed integrity as a key attribute in building trust and effective relationships; and creating this relationship with clients is a major part of the job.

On the issue of privacy, Richard Zuckerman discussed how employers must balance the need to keep track of employees while making sure not to violate any constitutional protections, such as against unreasonable searches and seizures. Other panelists discussed the right to monitor employee phone calls, GPS tracking, bag searches, and taping phone calls without the person’s consent.

The topic of social media and technology was explored. Several panelists shared their views on how Facebook and other social networking websites have opened up new possibilities as well as problems with privacy.

Overall, the event was extremely informative and the Labor Relations and Employment Law Society would like to thank the panelists, all who were able to attend and congratulate May and Eugene on their accomplishments!

Sep 12

17th Annual Management Lawyers’ Colloquium

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Please join the Center for Labor and Employment Law and the Labor Relations and Employment Law Society on Monday, September 16, 2013 for our Annual Management Lawyers’ Colloquium. Our Distinguished Speaker Series welcomes leaders in the field to the Law School to discuss timely issues and trends in labor and employment law. We are excited to welcome practitioners from a variety of firms and companies including: Bond, Schoeneck & King; Jackson Lewis LLP; Highgate Hotels; Lamb & Barnosky LLP; Coca-Cola Refreshments; Employment Practices Advisors, Inc.; Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom LLP; Hilton Hotels and others.

The 17th annual colloquium will feature a discussion of cutting-edge labor and employment law issues by a distinguished panel of management side labor and employment law attorneys. The event will close with an announcement of the student recipients of the annual Jackson Lewis Scholarship for Excellence in Labor and Employment Law in Memory of Allan C. Becker.

Please join us in the Mattone Family Atrium for networking, and an engaging panel discussion.

Please RSVP to edwardsp@stjohns.edu

We hope to see you there!

Sep 06

What Vance v. Ball State Means for New York State Employment Law Practitioners

In a pair of 1998 decisions, the Supreme Court held that liability for hostile workplace claims may only be imputed to employers when the employer negligent about the discrimination or when the harasser is a “supervisor.” 1 During the 2012-2013 term, the Court revisited the issue in Vance v. Ball State Univ. 2 The Court narrowly defined “supervisor” for purposes of vicarious liability under Title VII as someone empowered by the employer to take tangible employment actions against the victim. 3 Employee rights advocates decried the decision as an erosion of hard fought rights, while business advocates cheered the decision for making it more difficult for petulant ex-employees to file frivolous claims. 4 Vance is significant because it resolved a circuit split, 5 and the decision makes it harder for employees to succeed on hostile work environment claims. Two very recent cases from the Southern District of New York (which previously adhered to the Second Circuit’s broad definition of supervisor 6) demonstrate the bounds of this new doctrine.

The issue of imputed liability for hostile workplace environment claims was addressed in Brown v. City of New York. 7 Plaintiff Brown worked for the City of New York as a Supervisor within the Department of Social Services. 8 Her direct superior was Jerry Victor. 9 Plaintiff alleged that her subordinate George Miller touched her inappropriately, made loud sexual noises in the office and displayed aggressiveness toward all women. 10 Brown routinely reported Miller’s “unbearable” behavior to Victor, who did nothing. 11 Judge Englemayer held that a reasonable jury could impute liability to the City because an issue of material fact existed whether the City was negligent in responding to Brown’s complaints. 12

The same issue also arose in Dabney v. Christmas Tree Shops. 13 Plaintiff Dabney worked for Christmas Tree Shops as an Office Coordinator. 14 She reported to the Operations Manager Chris Bartlett. 15 Plaintiff alleged that another female employee complained that Store Manager Jose Plaza had made “offensive remarks” about female customers and used “ridiculous language”. 16 Citing Vance, Judge Seibel found that the alleged misogynistic comments made by a “manager-on-duty” could not impute liability to the employer because the Plaintiff never showed that the alleged harasser was the plaintiff’s direct supervisor. 17

Dabney and Brown are significant for New York employment law practitioners for three reasons. First, the Southern District of New York has embraced the Supreme Court’s ruling, and has been applying it evenhandedly. Although New York is still a pro-employee venue in other respects 18, Vance has continued the trend of making federal claims less surmountable for employees. Second, Dabney showed that Vance has the very real effect of closing avenues for employees who claim harassment to recover damages. Employees now face additional obstacles to securing money judgments. Third, Brown shows that employers and human resources personnel must remain ever vigilant in responding to employee complaints. All reports of discrimination, bias and harassment need to be taken extremely seriously.

Notes:

  1. Burlington Industries v. Ellerth, 524 U.S. 742 (1998); Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775 (1998).
  2. Vance v. Ball State Univ., ___ U.S. ___, 133 S. Ct. 2434, 2454, 186 L. Ed. 2d 565 (2013).
  3. Supervisors have ability to take tangible employment actions against employees when they can effect “significant change[s] in employment status, such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits.” Vance, 133 S. Ct. at 2443.
  4. See, e.g., Jason Linkins and Ryan Grim, Utopia Achieved As A Litany Of Pervasive Discriminatory Practices Are Ended With Magical Thinking, Jun. 26, 2013, Huffington Post, available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/workplace-discrimination-voting-rights-act-enda_n_3505537.html.
  5. Compare Mack v. Otis Elevator Co., 326 F.3d 116 (2d Cir. 2003), cert. denied, 540 U.S. 1016 (2003); Whitten v. Fred’s Inc., 601 F.3d 231 (4th Cir. 2010); McGinest v. GTE Service Corp., 360 F.3d 1106 (9th Cir. 2004); Dawson v. Entek International, 630 F.3d 928 (9th Cir. 2011); Smith v. City of Oklahoma City, 64 Fed. Appx. 122 (10th Cir. 2003) (broader definition of supervisor) with Noviello v. City of Boston, 398 F.3d 76 (1st Cir. 2005), Griffin v. Harrisburg Property Servs., Inc., 421 Fed. Appx. 204 (3d Cir. 2011), Stevens v. U.S. Postal Serv., 21 Fed. Appx. 261 (6th Cir. 2001), Parkins v. Civil Constructors of Illinois, Inc., 163 F.3d 1027 (7th Cir. 1998); Rhodes v. Illinois Dept. of Trans., 359 F.3d 498 (7th Cir. 2004), Joens v. John Morrell & Co., 354 F.3d 938 (8th Cir. 2004) (narrower definition of supervisor).
  6. See generally Mack, 326 F.3d 116.
  7. 2013 WL 3789091 (S.D.N.Y. July 19, 2013).
  8. Brown v. City of New York, 2013 WL 3789091 at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 19, 2013).
  9. Id.
  10. Id. at *2. Miller was eventually fired after assaulting several women and masturbating in front of female colleagues. Id. at *2-3.
  11. Id. at *13.
  12. Id. at *12-13. Also note that Judge Englemayer held that the City’s anti-harassment policy and internal complaint policy did not entitle to the City to summary judgment on this issue.
  13. 2013 WL 3820668 (S.D.N.Y. July 24, 2013).
  14. Dabney v. Christmas Tree Shops, 2013 WL 3820668 at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 24, 2013).
  15. Id.
  16. Id. at *10.
  17. Id. at *13. Also note that Judge Seibel held that Plaintiff’s hostile work discrimination claim failed on its merits because occasional use of sexist language does not by itself create a hostile work environment. Id. at *12. Thus even if Dabney’s direct superior, Bartlett, had made the “ridiculous” comments, liability could not impute unless Bartlett had the power to take tangible employment actions against Dabney (or unless the company was negligent in addressing the harassment).
  18. See, e.g., the New York State Human Rights Law, Executive Law, § 290 et seq., the New York City Administrative Code, § 8-101 et seq., the New York Minimum Wage Act, N.Y. Lab. Law § 650 et seq., the New York Payment of Wages Law, N.Y. Lab. Law § 190 et seq..
    See, e.g., Gross v. FBL Fin. Servs., Inc., 557 U.S. 167, 180, 129 S. Ct. 2343, 2352, 174 L. Ed. 2d 119 (2009) (“[P]laintiff bringing a disparate-treatment claim pursuant to the ADEA must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that age was the “but-for” cause of the challenged adverse employment action[.]”).

Sep 03

Around the Web – Labor Day 2013

In honor of the end of summer and Labor Day, the STJCLEL Blog brings you a special edition of Around the Web. Here is a compilation of interesting links and articles to invigorate your work day!

Labor Contract Negotiations are coming to New York City
New York’s Next Mayor Faces Union Showdown
With the end of Mayor Bloomberg’s term approaching, NYC braces for the renegotiation of all union contracts with the city. This article outlines the uphill battle that may or may not be ahead of the city, and how these negotiations could set an example for other state and local governments around the country.

NLRB launches APP
The NLRB app (for iPhone and Android) provides information regarding their rights and obligations under the National Labor Relations Act. Read the press release here, or just check out the app for yourself through ITunes or Google Play.

The History of Labor Day
If all you know about Labor Day is that it is the last acceptable day to wear white pants, read this primer from the Department of Labor to catch up on the origins of the holiday. Next, read this assessment of the current working conditions.

Enjoy the week! Leave anything of interest that we might have forgotten in the comments!

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