Articles Tagged with retaliation lawyers long island

Peter J. Famighetti is a Long Island employment lawyer and a founding partner of the Long Island employment law firm of Famighetti & Weinick, PLLC. Today’s employment law blog highlights Peter’s work and experience in the field of employment law.

Peter attended Hofstra Law School and was admitted as an attorney in New York State in 2001. Upon graduating from Hofstra, Peter was hired by the Nassau County Attorney’s Office where he was assigned to the Labor and Employment Bureau. Peter defended Nassau County against employment lawsuits. Notable cases handled by Peter include a class action lawsuit alleging the Nassau County police department violated the federal Equal Pay Act and gender discrimination laws and he defended a lawsuit, which alleged the Nassau County police department’s policy setting age limitations on applicants violated federal laws.

In 2010, Peter entered private practice working for employment law firms in Nassau County. In private practice, Peter represented countless employees in matters ranging from sexual harassment to hostile work environments to wrongful terminations. Peter fought for his clients’ rights in arbitrations and mediations, as well as in the federal and state courts of New York and administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and New York State Division of Human Rights (NYSDHR). In addition to the employment cases, Peter handled other civil rights cases, also. For instance, Peter obtained a plaintiff’s jury verdict in case alleging violations of his client’s First Amendment free speech rights and Fourth Amendment freedom from unlawful search and seizure rights.

Employers are prohibited from discriminating against its employees based, among other things, on race, gender, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, or familial status. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against its employees. This means that an employer cannot punish an employee for engaging in legally protected activity. For example, if an employee complains either to a supervisor or to an outside agency (such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) about workplace discrimination and the employee subsequently suffers a negative employment action as a result of making the complaint, the employer has unlawfully retaliated against its employee.

However, the law is filled with exceptions. One of the exceptions to employment discrimination and retaliation is called the “ministerial exception.” This exception was recognized by the United States Supreme Court in 2012 in the Hosanna-Tabor case where the Court found that a fourth grade teacher, who taught mainly non-religious subjects at a religious school, could not sue her employer for retaliation.

The Ministerial Exception in Employment Discrimination Cases

To start a federal discrimination or retaliation lawsuit, a plaintiff must file a complaint with the court. The complaint is a document which states the facts which the plaintiff alleges add up to causing the defendant to be liable to the plaintiff. In Federal courts, the complaint must set forth enough facts to make the plaintiff’s claims plausible, otherwise, the case risks being dismissed by the court. On June 15, 2017, New York’s Federal appellate court decided a case which discusses this “plausibility” standard.

The Plausibility Standard

For years, Federal courts applied a liberal “notice pleading” requirement to determine whether complaints should be dismissed or not. Courts looked to determine whether there were enough facts to give notice to the defendants about the basis for the plaintiff’s case. Then, in 2009, the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, applied a stricter standard and held that complaints must “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true” to state a plausible claim for relief. If not, the complaint will likely be dismissed. The Supreme Court did not provide much guidance about what that standard means and so courts have struggled to apply the standard to the cases coming before them.

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