We are proud to announce that Peter J. Famighetti and Matthew Weinick, partners at the Long Island employment law firm, Famighetti & Weinick PLLC, have been selected for inclusion by Super Lawyers New York Metro magazine.  This exclusive list is reserved for no more than five percent of the attorneys in New York State.

According to Super Lawyers, the list is “research driven” and peer influenced.  It is a rating service of lawyers who, according to Super Lawyers, have “attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.”  Super Lawyers uses a patented multi-part evaluation process to select lawyers for inclusion on its list.  The process includes:

  • Peer nominations

“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the first Monday of September in each year, being the day celebrated and known as Labor’s Holiday, is hereby made a legal public holiday.”

While mostAmericans lament the end of summer, Labor Day always offers one last long summer weekend before returning to school or the usual grind of work at summer’s end. Workers enjoy many national holidays by taking the day off, but even though days such as Memorial Day and July 4th are associated with barbecues, Americans always take time to remember the meaning behind those important days.

What about Labor Day though? Do Americans stop to really think about the meaning behind the holiday? Or is it just the symbolic end to summer fun and sunshine? Today’s Long Island employment law blog explores the history of Labor Day.

As Long Island employment lawyers, a question we frequently hear from callers is what rights do employees have who have been accused of sexual harassment. Although the exact answer depends on the particular circumstances, unfortunately, the most frequent answer is that the accused does not enjoy many rights, if any at all. This is so because the law favors (and in most cases requires) that employers take action against employees who are engaging in unlawful discrimination and harassment.

Moreover, most employees in New York are at-will, so employers can terminate their employment, for any reason, even for being falsely accused of sexual harassment.  But, New York’s federal appellate court has recently issued a decision which enforces that accused employees enjoy some rights, including protections under anti-discrimination laws. Today’s Long Island employment law blog explores the decision in Menaker v. Hofstra University.

In 2011, the United States Department of Education issued a memo to American colleges and universities which required them to “prioritize” investigation of sexual harassment claims. This memo was made in response to prior criticisms of the way schools had been handling harassment complaints. As of 2015, Hofstra was identified as a university which the DOE was investigating for possible mishandling of sexual misconduct claims.

Better late than never. Long Island employment law firm Famighetti & Weinick PLLC is excited to announce the addition of team member, Elisa. Elisa joins the firm as our paralegal. Although we’re approaching Elisa’s one year anniversary, we’ve all been so busy that we weren’t able to write an official welcome blog, until today.

Elisa’s value to the firm and to our clients is self-evident. Before her hire, Elisa studied criminal justice at Excelsior College. Her coursework included instruction about the United States court system, immigration, juvenile justice, criminal law, and ethics, coursework which aligns with the firm’s values of providing legal services to vulnerable segments of the population.

Elisa also received her paralegal studies certificate from Hofstra University. At Hofstra, Elisa learned skills which she puts to work everyday, including research and writing, and civil litigation procedures. Her substantive law classes included contracts, real estate, family law, business organizations, and Wills, Trusts, and Estates.

Employees facing discrimination in the workplace must usually rely on statutes to sue their employers. Governments, however, must operate within the boundaries of the Constitution, including when the government acts as an employer. So, employees who work for a government, such as a state, town, city, or special district, may be able to bring legal claims against their employer when the government violates the employees’ Constitutional rights. Today’s Long Island employment law blog discusses a recent appellate court decision in New York which raises the bar for employment related claims against municipalities.

Elizabeth Naumovski worked for SUNY Binghamton as an assistant basketball coach. Soon after she started working, rumors circulated that Naumovski was having an “inappropriate relationship” with “J.W.,” a gay female-student athlete.  The rumors continued into the next academic year, so the school responded by imposing restrictions on interactions between students and coaches.

Yet, the rumors allegedly continued to persist into the next year. In early February 2010, the defendant head coach and athletic director spoke by phone and agreed to terminate Naumovski, allegedly because Naumovski demonstrated favoritism to some students.

No constitutional right is absolute. In the context of the First Amendment and free speech, the law regulates speech which defames another person. On Tuesday, August 6, 2019, in Palin v. The New York Times Company, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decided a case involving the intersection of politics, gun violence, and free speech. The decision is ultimately a ruling about a question of procedure, but the facts and circumstances which led to the decision are relevant in today’s political climate, and the procedural issue is relevant to those litigating civil cases in New York’s federal courts. Today’s Long Island civil rights blog discusses Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against the New York Times.

On January 8, 2011, Jared Loughner killed six people and injured thirteen others while opening fire at a political rally for Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona. Giffords was seriously wounded during the attack. Before the attack, Sarah Palin’s political action committee, “SarahPAC,” produced a map that displayed images of a crosshairs target over specific Democratic congressional districts. For some, this evoked images of violence.

Among those pictured on the map was Congresswoman Giffords’ district. Though the map had been publicized during the earlier political controversy surrounding the Affordable Act, in the wake of the Loughner shooting, speculation swirled that the shooting was connected to the crosshairs map.

The phrase “sexual harassment” has certainly been in the news lately. But, it may be hard to discern when an individual has been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, at least in the eyes of the law. The United States Supreme Court has established standards for courts to follow when analyzing sexual harassment claims, yet it is still difficult for judges around the country to determine whether an employer has participated in unlawful activity.

The Supreme court has created a high standard under federal law that plaintiff-employees must clear in order to prove that they were victims of sexual harassment. Fortunately for New York employees, on June 19, 2019, the New York State Legislature approved a bill (S.B.6577) that offers more workplace protections for workers. Below are some of the amendments the bill seeks to make to New York State sexual harassment laws.

Elimination of the Faragher-Ellerth Defense

On June 4, 2018, we blogged about a federal lawsuit concerning whether President Trump’s Twitter account invokes First Amendment concerns. We wrote about a federal District Judge’s decision in the lawsuit which held that the President’s twitter account is a public forum subject to First Amendment protections. Today, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed the District Court’s decision. What did the appeals court rule? Today’s civil rights blog discusses the decision.

In Knight Institute v. Trump, a group of individuals sued President Trump. The individuals criticized the President on Twitter, then they were blocked from the President’s personal Twitter account. The individuals alleged that the President’s actions constituted a violation of the First Amendment’s free speech guarantees. The Southern District of New York agreed.

On appeal, the Second Circuit considered whether President Trump’s use of Twitter’s blocking function constituted conduct in violation of the First Amendment. The government argued that the Presidents use of his personal Twitter account (@realDonaldTrump), is private conduct. Private conduct is not regulated by the First Amendment whereas government conduct is. Indeed, the government noted that the President established his Twitter account in 2009, long before he became president.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating and retaliating against employees. Employers who violate Title VII may be subject to a lawsuit in federal court. Before filing a lawsuit, however, employees who believe their employer has violated the law must file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC. But, is this rule a jurisdictional requirement or a procedural rule? Courts across the country have debated this, but on June 3, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States settled the question. Today’s Long Island employment law blog explains the difference in the distinctions, SCOTUS’s decision, and the implications.

Title VII prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Further, Title VII prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the law. As part of Title VII, Congress included a requirement that aggrieved employees must file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC or local discrimination enforcement agency, before filing a lawsuit in federal court. Congress, however, did not expressly state whether this rule is a jurisdictional requirement or a procedural requirement. Because of this, federal courts across the country have been split on whether the rule is the latter or the former.

What’s the difference between a jurisdictional requirement and a procedural requirement? It’s not merely an academic point. Jurisdiction is a rule which allows a federal court the authority to hear a case. Jurisdiction can never be waived. In other words, if a court does not have authority to hear the particular kind of case before it, a party can raise the issue at any point during the litigation. In fact, a court may raise the issue on its own and may dismiss a case if it decides, at any point, that it does not have jurisdiction to hear the matter.

On May 1, 2019, United States District Court Judge Joan M. Azrack issued an ordered in a wage theft case filed by Long Island employment lawyers Famighetti & Weinick, PLLC in the Eastern District of New York. The case alleged that a Long Island food delivery service failed to pay overtime wages to two employees and failed to provide proper and legal wage statements under New York Law.

The lawsuit was served on the defendant corporation and an owner, but the defendants refused to defend themselves. Accordingly, the firm asked the court to enter a default judgment against them. As part of the motion, partner Matt Weinick set forth the applicable laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law concerning overtime pay. Weinick discussed how the affidavits submitted by the two employees established that the employer violated the wage and hour laws.

Next, the firm calculated the damages owed to each employee. Weinick set forth the hours each employee worked and how much each was owed for the overtime worked. Weinick also set forth the statutory damages the employer owed for not providing proper wage statements and the amount of liquidated damages allowed for under the FLSA and NYLL.

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