Articles Posted in Gender Discrimination

Two recent court decisions in high profile sexual harassment cases show just how seriously the system takes this crime and demonstrates clearly to victims of office wrongdoing that they’re not alone and that they have recourse. Violations of basic human dignity should not be tolerated, and the legal system, when leveraged effectively, can get bad behaviors to stop and compel fair compensation for mistreatment.

The two cases below illustrate how victims can prevail in court, even when predators are powerful – e.g. a high ranking city official and a well known sports network.

Detroit Councilman’s Unacceptable Behavior Leads to 6 Figure Award

Sometimes people dream up solutions to serious problems that are so bizarre, they literally take your breath away. To wit, in England, a socialist Member of Parliament recently suggested that in order to solve the problems of sexual harassment and assault on public transportation, trains should have separate cars that are only for women.

The immediate reaction from the pundit class was, unsurprisingly, outrage, with critics calling the idea “old-fashioned sexism” and a form of “apartheid.” One activist compared it to the time when a local mass murderer had been killing women, and one politician suggested that all women should stay home to avoid danger.

Women shouldn’t have to restrict or change their movements when criminals violate laws. That clearly and obviously places the responsibility on the wrong party. The solution is to stop the illegal behavior – and/or to eliminate its root social, cultural and institutional causes — not to normalize it and compel would-be victims to change their behavior and restrict their movements. A saner strategy would involve enforcing laws against sexual assault and harassment and to deter men (and women) from violating them in the first place.

Architecture professor and CUNY Dean George Ranalli stands accused of sexual harassment, according to a recent report from the New York Post.

Ranalli, who taught for two decades at the Yale University School of Architecture prior to taking on the role of the Dean of the Bernard and Ann Spitzer School of Architecture for City College, allegedly harassed his office assistant, Ariella Campisi, after an office holiday party in December 2013.

According to Campisi’s story, her boss was driving her home from the party, when they got stuck in traffic on the Westside Highway, following festivities at the Smoke Jazz and Supper Club. Per the Post, the 68-year-old proceeded to rub her knee and thigh “in a sexual manner, right below where her skirt ended” and later asked his assistant: “you look so beautiful. Can I kiss you?”

Workplace sexual harassment cases in New York (and beyond) often appear pretty cut and dry to objective observers. For instance, a boss may make outrageous comments in the office or grab or grope an employee, sometimes to horrific effect.

That said, when it comes to more impersonal modes of communication, like text messaging, it can be more challenging to prove misconduct or wrongdoing. Was a weird comment or awkward picture harassment… or a glitch or typo?

Context is crucial. If your boss has a habit of ogling you at work, asking you out and making inappropriate comments about your boyfriend… and then he texts you a nasty picture or veiled sexual innuendo… such text messages could likely be considered evidence of harassing behavior.

Our New York sexual harassment attorneys have been thinking a lot about the United Nations lately, in light of potent allegations made against a high ranking UN science official. Rajendra Pauchari recently resigned as the Chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) after serving in the position since 2002. The surprising move — his full term would have expired in October of this year — comes on the coattails of allegations that Pauchari had sexually harassed colleagues.

The first allegation came from a 29-year-old employee at Pauchari’s Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). The woman alleges that he sent inappropriate messages to her through a number of mediums. Pauchari stepped down from his post at TERI following the allegations. A second, more recent allegation led to his resignation from the IPCC at the end of February. The second woman’s lawyer describes Pauchari’s harassment against many women.

Pauchari has faced calls for his resignation in the past, due to inaccuracies in climate reports; and in 2010, reporters from The Telegraph questioned Pauchari’s financial relationship with the UN.

Alexandra Marchuk recently sued her former law firm, Faruqi & Faruqi, and one of its partners, Juan Monteverde, for sexual harassment, alleging that she had been assaulted and subjected to a hostile workplace environment. Her case went to trial on January 12, and the jury reached a verdict on Thursday, February 5, after just a 24-hour deliberation.

The jury did not grant Marchuk’s request for $2 million in damages. Instead, jurors awarded her $90,000 in compensation and lost pay and $50,000 in punitive damages for employment discrimination. Notably, the jury did not award damages for emotional distress or discrimination under federal law.

Win, Lose or Draw?

Our New York employment attorneys have been fascinated by the implications of a political appointment in neighboring Pennsylvania. The state’s new governor, Tom Wolf, a self-identified progressive, has nominated a transgender woman, Dr. Rachel Levine, to be the state’s Physician General. Dr. Levine has identified herself as a woman for 5 years.

Dr. Levine recently spoke with reporters at the Washington Blade about her career. Administrators at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center have been supportive of her transition; and the hospital has established clear and effective policies to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender expression.

As Physician General for Pennsylvania, Dr. Levine will oversee critical health initiatives and policy work for the state as well as continue her work as a private physician. She’ll serve in an advisory capacity for the Secretary of the Department of Health and for the governor. At Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Dr. Levine serves as the chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders and the vice chairwoman for Clinical Affairs for the Department of Pediatrics.

Actor and comedian Chris Rock and reporter Frank Rich first appeared together in 1996 on Bill Maher’s show Politically Incorrect. They were recently reunited for two New York lounge conversations during Rock’s promotion of the upcoming movie Top Five, which he wrote and directed.

During the conversation reported on the Vulture website, Rock had several controversial things to say about the 2014 midterm elections that were deemed “a fiasco for Obama.” For example, he said Republicans “have no problem being victims” and that colleges have become “too conservative” for his comedy acts.

Rock also observed how America could improve equality for minority groups. Rock said, “If people knew how rich, rich people are, there would be riots in the streets.” Whether or not riots are imminent, there are a few things more fortunate people can do to increase equality.

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women reports that up to 94 percent of women in Egypt have experienced sexual harassment in many forms, from catcalls to assaults.

A decree released last week by Adly Mansour, the outgoing president of Egypt, outlaws sexual harassment. This law, an amendment to the previous penal code that imposed no punishments on offenders, imposes jail sentences of 6 months to five years and fines up to $700 for one offense.

More severe sentences apply when offenders repeat the crime, abuse positions of power, or use weapons to sexually harass others.

Is “work-life balance” merely a fantasy for American workers? An increasing number of professionals seem to think so.

Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, recently spoke at the Aspen Ideas Festival regarding the difficulties of being a high-powered executive and a parent. As a professional who habitually works until midnight, Nooyi employs the help of her children’s grandparents to help raise them.

Contrary to the ideal many working mothers strive toward every day, Nooyi doesn’t believe “women can have it all.” She cites the conflicting timelines of career and parenthood, noting the years women spend raising children are the same years during which they must work toward management positions.