Employees often come to us with specific complaints about something that happened in the workplace and ask for help negotiating a settlement or severance package, filing a charge of discrimination or prosecuting a lawsuit.

Sometimes, people don't understand the legal options available to them. Even if you are an at-will employee, the law may be on your side. If you have been the victim of an injustice in the workplace, we may be able to help. Fill out our questionnaire, and we will work with you.

The laws regulating the workplace are complex. Here are a few examples of clients who thought they had no options — until we were able to obtain relief for them.

Unpaid wages

An out-of-state company contracted with the New York City Department of Education to teach a summer school program. Our clients were the teachers and paraprofessionals who taught the classes.

Halfway through the summer, our clients' paychecks began to arrive late and, ultimately, not at all. Our clients continued working out of loyalty to the students and a belief that the company would honor its obligations once its cash flow improved. Unfortunately, the employer did not honor its obligations.

We learned that the employer had no operations or assets in New York, and we quickly realized that it would be difficult, expensive and time-consuming to sue the company in its out-of-state home. Many law firms would have given up at that point.

We dug a little deeper and discovered a little-used Department of Education regulation that bars contracts with companies that defaulted on previous contracts. We persuaded the Department of Education to ignore technicalities and cut through the red tape on behalf of the teachers and paraprofessionals. The Department summoned the employer to New York for a hearing. At the hearing, we negotiated a payment of all monies owed to our clients — plus interest. We ensured prompt payment to our clients by insisting that the company's owner pledge his personal assets.

Sexual harassment

Our client was the only female firefighter in a suburban department.
Some of her male colleagues, unhappy that a woman had been hired, 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 approached senior officials of the department in the hope of negotiating an amicable resolution of her situation. Instead, she then began to receive anonymous phone calls and threats that her oxygen tube would be "accidentally" disconnected during a fire.

The firefighter retained us. We contacted federal and local authorities, and closely monitored the protection being given to our client. We filed a federal civil rights action and obtained a large cash settlement.

Wrongful termination

Our client was a commercial artist who was considering leaving her employer and going to work for a competitor — and the employer fired her when it learned of this. She had, without counsel, signed a noncompetition agreement and simply assumed that the contract was enforceable. In fact, it was not. We quickly obtained a temporary restraining order enjoining the employer from enforcing the noncompetition agreement as well as damages for the breach of the employment agreement. Our client now works for the competitor at a much higher salary.

Disability discrimination

Our client, a bookkeeper with asthma, was subjected to secondhand smoke in the workplace — even though the New York City Clean Air Act requires workplaces to be smoke-free. After our client suffered an attack and was rushed to the hospital, she reported the Clean Air Act violation to city authorities. Following the city authorities' surprise visit to the employer, our client was fired for nonexistent "performance difficulties."

We negotiated a cash settlement and a favorable reference. The employer then closed the business and refused to pay the settlement amount. We then sued the employer for breach of the settlement agreement and obtained a judgment. When the employer refused to pay, we attached his bank account. See commercial law.