Sexual harassment in the workplace is against the law. So is racial harassment and disability harassment. Unlawful harassment includes sexual and racial jokes and pictures in the workplace, demands for sexual favors and offensive comments. If you are subjected to harassment because of your gender, race or disability, your employer is obligated to timely investigate your complaint and make the harassment stop. If your employer does not do this, it is liable for the harassment.
At Bergstein & Ullrich,, we have represented many victims of sexual and racial harassment, prevailing at trial and securing settlements. Don't be afraid to stand up for your rights as an employee.
We have many success stories in these cases. In March 2010, our firm prevailed at trial on behalf of a high school student who was subjected to extensive racial bullying from classmates. After successfully repelling the school district's motion for summary judgment, we were able to prove in federal court that the school district was deliberately indifferent to the racial harassment. The jury awarded our client $1.25 million in damages. Zeno v. Pine Plains Central School District (2010). That case is now one of the leading cases in the United States on the issue of school district liability for racial bullying. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the verdict in favor of Zeno and ruled that the trial court properly assessed his damages in the amount of $1 million, to our knowledge the highest amount of damages ever upheld by an appellate court in a student-on-student harassment case. The appellate ruling clarifies the legal standards governing student harassment cases brought under Title VI and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, holding that, even if they punish individual offenders, school districts may be liable for deliberate indifference to the student's rights if the school unreasonably fails to remedy the school's hostile environment by, for example, implementing comprehensive diversity programs. 702 F.3d 655 (2d Cir. 2012).
Other notable successes in handling sexual and racial harassment cases include Townsend v. Benjamin Enterprises, 679 F.3d 41 (2d Cir. 2012), which upheld our client's sexual harassment verdict and ruled for the first time in our jurisdiction that an employer is automatically liable for sexual harassment if the harasser is a "proxy" for the company, that is, if he holds a high-ranking position. And, in Rasmy v. Marriott International, the Court of Appeals held that our client may proceed on his national origin harassment claim, reinstating the case after the trial court had dismissed it on a motion for summary judgment. 952 F.3d 379 (2d Cir. 2020). In Tulino v. City of New York, 2019 WL 3810975 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 1, 2019), we were on the legal team that sustained a sexual harassment verdict in favor of our client, resulting in a. $1 million damages award.
Another important victory was Pucino v. Verizon Comm., 618 F.3d 112 (2d Cir. 2010), which reinstated a sexual harassment case that the trial court dismissed on a motion for summary judgment. This ruling is notable for holding that a woman can prevail in a hostile work environment case even without explicitly sexual comments, so long as she can prove she was given worse assignments than her male co-workers.