Employment Law


Levy Davis & Maher, LLP handle a wide variety of employment-related claims. The firm has represented employees in several precedent-setting cases.

Weiner v. McGraw-Hill, Inc., 57 N.Y.2d 458 (1982), the landmark case that first established under New York law that an employment application and/or handbook can create a binding contract. Weiner has been cited thousands of times by courts in New York and around the nation as well as in dozens of law review articles and treatises.

Hendler v. Intelecom U.S., Inc., 963 F. Supp. 200 (E.D.N.Y. 1997), established for the first time in the Second Circuit that an employee subjected to a hostile work environment on account of disability may sue in federal court.

Slaughter v. American Building Maintenance Co., 64 F. Supp. 2d 319 (S.D.N.Y. 1999), a case discussing an employee's rights and an employer's responsibilities under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Recent cases:

Overtime
Restaurant owner deducted 18% of tips paid to servers and deliverymen by credit card. When the workers hired us, we filed a lawsuit. Two days later, the restaurant fired our clients on trumped-up charges. Several days later, we obtained an order (temporary restraining order, "TRO") from the court ordering the restaurant to reinstate our clients. (Federal District Court, Southern District of New York, back pay awarded.)

Union painters received 2 checks every week: a paycheck for the first 35 hours per week and an "expense reimbursement" check for overtime hours. The "expense reimbursement' check was paid at straight-time rates, not time and a half. (Federal District Court, Southern District of New York, back pay awarded.)

Dog kennel workers were denied overtime pay because the employer claimed that the daily meal breaks were not compensable. We argued that, the meal breaks were for the feeding of the dogs, not rest periods for the workers. (Federal District Court, Southern District of New York, back pay awarded.)

Registry nurses worked 85-hour weeks caring for homebound patients in Queens and Long Island. The employer claimed that the nurses were independent contractors (or employees of the patients, rather than the nurses registry), and not entitled to time and a half for overtime. (Federal District Court, Eastern District of New York, trial pending.)

Hotel security guards were required to report to work in street clothes, proceed to a distribution point to be issued uniforms, proceed to locker room to change, and, only then, clock in for work and reverse the process at the end of the shift, which means each worker spent approximately 30 minutes per day off the clock. (Federal District Court, Southern District of New York, pre-suit settlement.)

Other overtime clients in recent years include insurance claims processors, tour guides, delicatessen sandwich makers, limousine service dispatchers, and many others.

Family and Medical Leave cases
A special education teacher took leave because of illness and to care for her seriously ill mother. Our client later moved to Florida and sought employment as a teacher. The principal, citing "excessive absenteeism," gave our client unsatisfactory evaluations and references even though the law protected her right to take family and medical leave. The retaliatory references made it impossible for our client to obtain work. (Federal District Court, Southern District of New York, settlement before trial.)

A messenger at an Upper West Side medical lab injured his back while preventing a heavy shelf from falling on co-workers. Our client was treated at the emergency room and told to stay home from work for five days. He phoned his supervisor but was told that company policy prohibited days off on the day after a holiday, and was fired. ( Torres v. West Side Radiology Associates, No. 05 Civ. 4871, Federal District Court, Southern District of New York, damages awarded at trial).

A broadcast technician developed insomnia from shift work and then suffered side effects from insomnia medication. She asked her human resources representative for information about medical leave. Instead of granting medical leave, our client was fired on a pretext. (Mediated settlement.)

Sexual Harassment Cases
Our client was a firefighter in Long Island. Some of her male colleagues were unhappy that a woman had been hired, and subjected her to public humiliation and excluded her from fire department social events. Complaints to the department resulted in a meaningless slap on the harassers' wrists. Our client insisted on her right to respectful treatment. She then received an anonymous death threat. (Federal District Court, Eastern District of New York, settlement before trial.)

A copyreader in a large advertising agency received from his supervisor a number of obscene postcards and faxes, and was finally invited to a "party" at the supervisor's apartment at which our client was the only guest. When the supervisor's advances became unmistakable, our client rebuffed them, at first politely. The supervisor started reporting our client for trivial disciplinary infractions, retracted the company's approval of our client's flexible schedule that allowed him to attend physical therapy and replaced our client's comfortable desk chair with a hard chair that aggravated his injury. (EEOC mediation.)

An office-building cleaner refused to date her supervisor. The supervisor fabricated a disciplinary infraction and transferred our client to another building. We worked with the union to reverse the transfer. (Arbitration award.)

Pregnancy Discrimination cases
We have represented women in many industries (consulting, education, non-profit administration, banking) who received unwarranted poor performance evaluations soon after disclosing their pregnancies to their employers. We have successfully intervened, i.e., persuaded the employer to comply with the pregnancy discrimination laws. We have also represented women who learned that their "jobs had been eliminated" while they were on maternity leave or were "coincidentally" reassigned to jobs that required heavy lifting soon after giving the employer a doctor's note restricting physical activity during pregnancy. Typically, these cases are settled out of court or before trial.

Retaliation cases
A garage mechanic at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection testified in support of a co-worker who had been the victim of race discrimination. Our client's supervisor retaliated by lodging false disciplinary charges. (NYC Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, dismissal of discipline modified on appeal.)

A graphic designer received dozens of pornographic emails from his supervisor. When our client complained to human resources, he was "laid off" due to a purported economic downturn. (Federal District Court, Western District of New York, settlement before trial.)

Non-competition agreements
A commercial artist was fired when her employer discovered that she had discussed going to work for an out-of-state employer and then the employer tried to enforce a covenant not to compete. We secured an injunction prohibiting enforcement of the non-competition agreement and an award of back pay. (Supreme Court, New York County.)

Trade Secrets Cases
Fashion designers left their jobs and opened their own company. The employer accused our clients of stealing trade secrets and competing unfairly. We successfully argued to the court that our clients stole nothing, and the employer's motion a temporary restraining order and injunction were denied. (Commercial Division, Supreme Court, New York County.)

Disability discrimination
A carpenter for the NYC Board of Education whose disability rendered him unable to lift heavy weights was repeatedly denied accommodation. (Federal District Court, Southern District of New York.)

A qualified mental health worker applied for a part-time job at a major hospital in Long Island. The hospital had seemed eager to hire our client -- until the in-person interview, when the hospital discovered that our client had a prosthetic right hand. The hospital claimed (but could not prove) that the prosthetic hand posed a danger to patients. (Federal District Court, Eastern District of New York, settlement before trial.)

Our client was a vocational rehabilitation counselor who was herself legally blind. A new supervisor forbade the agency secretary to help our client read case reports. Our client copied case reports and then brought them home for use with a special electronic reader. The supervisor fired our client for removing case reports from agency premises. (Federal District Court, Southern District of New York, settlement before trial.)

We have litigated and settled a number of cases on behalf of persons (bookkeepers, executives, advertising account representatives and laborers) with respiratory conditions who were subjected to secondhand smoke in the workplace.

Sales commissions, benefits and bonuses
We have represented employees in a number of industries, including health care, printing, securities, employee placement, wholesaling and food service.

We recently represented a salesperson in the financial services industry. After our client closed a large sale, the employer "reinterpreted" the compensation plan which resulted in our client receiving a smaller commission than anticipated. The employer also took chargebacks from the salesperson when customers did not renew their subscriptions to the employer's product. (Negotiated settlement agreement.)

Back pay
We pursue employers who refuse to pay wages and salaries owed to their employees, filing lawsuits and executing judgments if necessary.

We recently represented three software developers. For several weeks, their employer either did not pay our clients or paid them much less than the agreed salary. The employer promised to make it up to them when a big contract came through. The contract never materialized and our clients were never paid. The employer never responded to our lawsuit. We obtained a default judgment and recovered our client's back pay -- from the bank account of the employer's CEO.

Whistleblower
Our client was a manager of a residential facility for the disabled. She discovered that the facility had cut corners in a way potentially harmful to patients. When she reported the improper practice to her superiors, she was fired for pretextual reasons. (Supreme Court, Suffolk County, settlement before trial.)