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Matt Lauer: One Sexual Harassment Complaint Led to More

Matt Lauer: One Sexual Harassment Complaint Led to More

As more women are coming forward to claim sexual harassment, other women are also gaining the courage to come forward. This is the current trend in a variety of sexual harassment cases that are hitting the media. Such appears to be the case in the recent reports about Matt Lauer, long time anchor and host of the “Today” show.

Details About the Matt Lauer Sexual Harassment and His Job Termination

According to Fox News , NBC met with Lauer, an alleged victim and her lawyer to confront Lauer about his inappropriate sexual behavior. Since the news broke, it became apparent there was more than one isolated incident. NBC quickly fired Matt Lauer and stated it was the first time they had heard about the sexual harassment allegations.

People magazine reports that eight women have now come forward regarding inappropriate sexual behavior on Matt Lauer’s part.

Lauer has issued a public apology for his actions and for the people he has harmed, and said that although not all aspects of the allegations were true and some he felt were mischaracterized, there was enough truth in them for him to apologize and feel regret and shame. He said his full time job is now to do what he can to repair the damage he has done.

Actions that Make Lauer’s Instance Stand Apart from Other Recent Claims

NBC News acted quickly on the allegations after discovering them. Matt Lauer did not deny that he engaged in sexual misconduct, but instead expressed his regret and indicated he would take action to repair the damage.

As a business, what is the best approach to take when allegations of sexual harassment arise? If you face sexual harassment issues, seek legal counsel as soon as possible and discuss your concerns so you can weigh your options.

Experienced Legal Counsel When Your Business Faces Sexual Harassment Allegations

At Stephen D. Hans & Associates, P.C., we have decades of experiences assisting business owners with sexual harassment and other employment related issues. Call our Long Island City office at (718) 275-6700 to arrange a confidential consultation.

What Happens at a Workers’ Compensation Hearing and Why Are They Scheduled?

Workers’ Compensation Hearings – What Happens and Why Are They Scheduled?

When you’ve been injured on the job, one of the first things you’ll do is notify your employer and file a claim for workers’ compensation. In some situations, your claim will be approved without the need for a hearing and your benefits will start within a couple weeks. In most situations, though, you’ll receive a notice that a hearing has been scheduled.

Why You Will Have to Appear at a Hearing After Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim

There are a number of reasons why you’ll have to appear at a hearing after you’ve filed a claim for workers’ compensation:

  • Your employer or the workers’ compensation insurance provider may be challenging your claim, arguing that you weren’t hurt on the job
  • The insurance company doctor may have concluded that your injuries don’t prevent you from doing your job
  • There may be a dispute about your wages or the amount to which you are entitle

At the workers’ compensation hearing, the parties will produce evidence regarding all the issues being contested. You can provide the judge with documentation regarding your pre-accident wages, so that you are awarded the appropriate amount of disability income under the law.

It’s important to understand that your employer and the workers’ compensation insurer will both likely have legal representation at the hearing. In addition, you can’t expect that the judge will take the time to walk you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney at your side.

Contact an Experienced Workers’ Comp Attorney

At Pyrros & Serres LLP, our attorneys handle all matters related to workers’ compensation claims for people in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and across the greater New York City metropolitan area. Call our office at (718) 626-7730 to schedule a consultation to find out how we can help with your workers’ comp claim.

Winter Driving Tips

Winter Weather Driving Tips

Driving in winter weather can be a challenge. Treacherous winter driving conditions range from freezing rain, sleet, snow or simply a drop in temperature causing wet surfaces to turn icy. Understanding some basic ideas about how to drive on ice or in snow can help you prevent accidents.

Recommendations for Driving in Snowy Weather

The American Automobile Association (AAA) recommends the following tips for driving in snowy, winter weather.

  • Press down on the gas pedal or brake slowly. Fast acceleration can make you skid or spin. Allow enough time to stop slowly.
  • Drive slowly. Driving slowly helps you have enough time to maneuver for gradual acceleration and stopping.
  • Increase your driving distance between cars. Understand that you should increase the distance for stopping within three to four seconds to eight to ten seconds.
  • Apply smooth brake pressure. Rest the heel of your foot on the floor and press the brake pedal with the ball of your foot for gradual braking.
  • Avoid stopping. If at all possible, avoid stopping in snowy weather and keep rolling. For example, roll up to a traffic light so slowly that you can keep rolling until the light changes.
  • Do not accelerate driving up hills. You can easily go into a spin when accelerating too much as you climb a hill.
  • Do not stop when going up a hill. If the hill is icy, it is difficult to keep the car from spinning as you press the gas pedal to start the car moving again.
  • Stay home whenever possible. The best way to avoid snowy weather accidents is to avoid driving in snow. Stay at home if at all possible.

Legal Help If  You Have You Been Injured Through the Fault of Another Driver

If you have suffered serious injury in a winter driving accident, you may be able to recover compensation for damages. At Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP, we offer a free initial consultation to discuss your accident and the prospects of pursuing a case. Call (718) 539-3100 to arrange an appointment.

Stopping Sexual Harassment in Your Company is More Important than Ever

Recent high-profile sexual harassment stories  have been dominating the headlines in the last few weeks. The likelihood is that such exposés will continue as more victims come forward to tell their stories. And while stories that include famous celebrities and high profile politicians will be more desirable fodder for major news outlets, it’s easy to believe that local business scandals may go unnoticed.

Sexual harassment under the law

Rather than just considering how your company should respond to a sexual harassment claim, you should also consider how such incidences in your company can be decreased. Limiting your company’s liability is a valid concern but focusing on creating a non-threatening work environment for your employees may help you to create a sexual harassment policy that will be successful.

Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that falls under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Such discrimination can manifest as:

  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Unwelcome sexual advances (both physical and verbal)
  • Offensive jokes
  • Slurs
  • Name calling
  • Physical assaults / threats
  • Intimidation
  • Ridicule
  • Offensive objects or pictures
  • Interference with work performance

The EEOC investigates thousands of sexual harassment claims per year—and given the current climate, those claims are likely to increase.

What you can do

Small to medium business need to understand that it is not just large corporations and famous celebrities that get hit with sexual harassment claims. If you have as few as 15 employees you could find yourself facing such a suit, so taking an active role in preventing workplace sexual harassment and correcting any incidents should be a priority for you.

Written Policies and Procedures. Having written policies and procedures against sexual discrimination provides a major legal defense against liability. By having policy and procedures in place, it shows that you’ve made a good faith effort to prevent and correct harassment. Such policies and procedures should include:

  • Definition of sexual harassment
  • A procedure for filing complaints
  • Designated employees trained on receiving and documenting complaints
  • Encouragement in filing complaints
  • Assurances of confidentiality and non-retaliation for reporting

Providing training on sexual harassment to employees

Providing comprehensive training on what sexual harassment is, how to recognize it, how to report it, and the responsibilities for both workers and employers can save your company a lot of future headaches. Your training course should contain both theoretical and practical content—using drills, hypothetical situations, and other means to provide a personal understanding of sexual harassment. It is also wise to train managerial and supervisory staff separately from employees.

Prevent sexual harassment before it occurs—talk to an employment law attorney

Ultimately your best approach to harassment in your company is to create and adhere to a zero tolerance policy. By refusing to tolerate such behavior and protecting any employee subjected to it, you not only protect your company but also invest in your greatest resource – your employees. An experienced NY employment law attorney can work with you to develop the appropriate policies and steps to take to prevent and correct sexual harassment within your company.  If you have questions about your company’s sexual harassment policies contact us online or call 718-275-6700 today to schedule a consultation.

What Happens If a Beneficiary is also a Witness to a Will?

Author: Bonnie Lawston

Under New York law, a valid will must contain the signatures of two witnesses. There are no requirements regarding the capacity of the witnesses. The testator (person executing the will) must sign in the presence of the witnesses, but they need not sign in each other’s presence. There’s also nothing that prohibits you from having a family member as a witness to your will, but there can be consequences.

Under New York law, a witness who has also has an interest in the estate is known as an “interested witness.” The fact that the will was witnessed by an interested witness does not invalidate the will, but it will render any benefit to the interested witness in the will void. Accordingly, any conveyance of property to an interested witness under a will, even if it’s part of a residuary estate, will be ineffective and will be returned to the estate, to be divided among other beneficiaries.

What Happens If a Beneficiary is also a Witness to a Will?

The “interested witness” rule, however, can apply to more than just property received. Consider the facts in Matter of the Estate of Cynthia R. Wu. In that case, the deceased had a provision in her will that called for estate and inheritance taxes to be paid as debts of the estate, rather than by beneficiaries out of their pro rata share of the estate. The deceased’s brother, the named beneficiary of two life insurance policies owned by the decedent, had also been a witness to the decedent’s will. The court concluded that, because the brother was an interested witness, he was not entitled to the benefit of having the estate taxes paid out of the estate. Instead, the court ordered him to pay his pro rata share of the estate taxes out of the death benefit proceeds.

Contact the Law Office of Bonnie Lawston

At the Law Office of Bonnie Lawston, we focus our estate administration practice on estates subject to probate in Nassau County and Suffolk County on Long Island. Contact our office online or call us at 631-425-7299 or 24/7 at 855-479-4700) to set up a free initial consultation.

Companies Accused of Discrimination or Harassment: What Can You Do?

 

Author: Stephen D. Hans & Associates

Woman suffering from sexual harassment in the workplace

When accusations of discrimination or harassment emerge, employers should consult with an employment law defense lawyer as soon as possible. Aside from seeking counsel, what actions can you take right away and what mistakes can you avoid?

The American Bar Association  suggests avoiding the following mistakes.

  • Failing to investigate immediately. Waiting for an employee to submit a formal statement about harassment or discrimination or waiting for witnesses to submit written statements is the most common mistake made by employers. Any investigation delay can make it appear like you’re ignoring the situation or not taking it seriously.
  • Inserting cross-examination into the process. Conducting an investigation without bias is important for avoiding claims of unfair investigation against your company, even when you suspect a complainant, witness or the accused individual is lying. A better approach is to ask in a respectful manner that the person explain contradictory statements or ask for evidence that refutes the statements.
  • Not maintaining confidentiality. You must keep the investigation confidential along with the information obtained during the investigation. If witnesses suffer backlash from the investigation because their identity is made known or for any other reason, as the employer, you may become subject to claims of retaliation.
  • Not interviewing all witnesses with knowledge of the alleged events. The investigator should interview all the witnesses because it will help determine whether information is consistent.
  • Failing to make known the company’s policy against retaliation. Retaliation is a common problem, according to the EEOC and comprises about one third of the cases the EEOC handles. It is important to reinforce the company policy by reminding all parties that retaliation will not be tolerated against complainants who make good faith claims. This focus also helps protect you as the employer.
  • Failing to conduct a thorough investigation. Overlooking records, such as telephone or cell phone records when they are crucial to an investigation is a common mistake.
  • Failing to end the investigation with a conclusive finding. When investigations end with disputed evidence by both sides and nothing is concluded, the investigation is tantamount to no investigation. Some conclusion must be reached based on a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, the investigator must reach a conclusion that it most likely that the harassment did or did not occur.

Put an Experienced Employment Defense Lawyer on Your Side

Employers dealing with harassment or discrimination issues should seek legal advice as soon as possible. Stephen Hans & Associates brings decades of experience to the table in every case we handle.

 

 

Do You Need a Witness to a Workplace Accident?

Author: Pyrros & Serres

In New Jersey, if you’ve been injured on the job, you have a right to seek benefits to cover your disability, as well as medical expenses. But what if no one actually saw the accident? Can you still recover workers’ compensation benefits if there were no witnesses to your injury? The answer is yes.

There are typically two types of evidence in a legal matter—direct evidence and circumstantial evidence. Direct evidence includes anything a witness had access to directly, either through sight, sound, smell, taste or touch. Circumstantial evidence, on the other hand, involves facts that support a finding, but without any direct access to an event.

We were involved in a workers’ compensation claim where an employee died of a heart attack at his desk at work. No one had been present when the man died. However, through circumstantial evidence, we were able to show the man had been under significant stress on the job. We successfully argued to the workers’ compensation judge and the Workers’ Compensation Board that the reason the man died was related to his job.

Do You Need a Witness to a Workplace Accident?

Experienced NYC | Queens | Bronx | Brooklyn Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

At Pyrros & Serres LLP, we provide comprehensive counsel to people with workers’ compensation and Social Security disability claims in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and across the greater New York City metropolitan area. Because of our reputation for effective advocacy, many of our new clients come to us as referrals from clients and other lawyers.

To learn more about the full scope of our practice, see our practice area overview page.

Pyrros & Serres LLP
Queens, NY Workers’ Compensation Attorneys | NYC | Brooklyn | Bronx Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

Tesla Fatal Car Crash: NTSB Reveals Need for Safeguards

Author: Sackstein Sacktein & Lee

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated the Tesla fatal car crash that occurred in May of 2016. The Tesla semi-automated car driven by Joshua Brown crashed into a tractor-trailer and hit it broadside as the trailer made a left turn. More than a year later after the crash, in September 2017, the NTSB stated that Tesla should have had more operation limitations on drivers of semi-automatic cars.

Facts About the Tesla Fata Car Crash

The New York Post reported that the accident occurred in Williston, Florida (southwest of Gainesville) at an intersection. Joshua Brown had set the cruise control for 74 mph two minutes before the crash occurred. The speed limit was 65 mph and neither the driver nor the autopilot sensors noticed the tractor-trailer and consequently neither applied the brakes. An under-ride accident occurred with the car passing under the trailer.

fatal car accidents

Tesla’s Response to the Accident

In June 2016, Tesla said that Autopilot “is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert.”

Brown’s family released a state in September that stated, “We heard numerous times that the car killed our son. That is simply not the case,” the family’s statement said. “There was a small window of time when neither Joshua nor the Tesla features noticed the truck making the left-hand turn in front of the car.”

The statement went on to say, “People die every day in car accidents. Change always comes with risks, and zero tolerance for deaths would totally stop innovation and improvements.”

The family’s lawyer and spokesperson for Tesla declined to answer whether Tesla and the family had reached a legal settlement.

NTSB Holds Tesla Accountable

Certainly the truck driver and car driver had responsibility in not noticing each other’s vehicles. However, the NTSB also holds Tesla accountable. The Board believes the car needs safeguards such as the following:

  • Ensuring drivers paid attention and preventing over reliance on the automatic driving.
  • Allowing drivers only to use the system on highways and limited-access roads as the owner’s manual recommends.
  • Restricting use on roadways with cross traffic since the autopilot system does not reliably detect cross traffic.
  • Including further limitations to prevent drivers from misusing the system.

Semi-automatic cars are the bridge between driver controlled cars and completely automated cars. Accidents can occur until the correct balance is achieved and automation changes can actually prevent human errors.

Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP focuses its practice primarily on personal injury cases.

Washington Post Settles Age and Discrimination Lawsuit

The Washington Post recently settled a lawsuit filed by former advertising executive David DeJesus. When bad publicity becomes a greater threat to business than losing money through a settlement, oftentimes businesses opt to settle.

discrim at job interview

Such was the case with the Washington Post. DeJesus claimed that his boss terminated him in 2011 due to racial discrimination. He had enjoyed an 18-year career with the company, and while the Washington Post claimed it based his termination on “willful neglect of duty and insubordination,” an appeals court of three judges decided last year that a jury could hear the case. The appellate court overturned a lower court that dismissed the lawsuit.

The appeals court went on the record as saying, “A jury could properly conclude that the Washington Post’s proffered reason [for the termination of DeJesus] is so unreasonable that it provokes suspicion of pretext.” (New York Post)

 

Further Details about the Age and Discrimination Lawsuit

According to the Observer, David DeJesus brought in more than $1 billion in revenue during his nearly 20 years of tenure with the company. His termination occurred abruptly with his boss cursing and shouting at him. In the federal claim that DeJesus filed in 2014, he also stated that his termination along with the terminations of 47 other older black employers at about the same time were so the company could hire younger, less expensive white employees.

Other affidavits file by former African American Washington Post employees provided details of racial harassment and in particular racial harassment by advertising Vice-President Ethan Selzer. He fired DeJesus without previous discipline or forewarning and told a black female employee to clean the department kitchen and made racist jokes about another black subordinate’s husband. Also, at one point an employee who came to work at the Washington Post wearing a KKK belt buckle was not even disciplined.

Quiet in the Media and with the Settlement

The Observer noted that a number of media outlets ignored the lawsuit and MSNBC did not respond to DeJesus’ request for coverage.

Do You Have Employment Issues that Could Become Legal Matters?

Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates are glad to address your concerns. We offer clients seasoned legal advice based on more than 20 years of employment law experience.

 

Are You New York Website ADA Compliant?

Author: Web Perseverance, Inc

When you think of ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) compliance, likely wheel chair ramps, sound enabled and/or Braille enhanced traffic signs are what come to mind. However, the law may extend to your website. Even if it doesn’t currently apply in your state, the Department of Justice (DOJ) may soon interpret the law so it does apply to business websites across the country.

ADA compliant website

 

According to this article , over 240 lawsuits were filed against companies mostly in the retail, hospitality, and financial services industries, that alleged the companies had failed to maintain websites that were accessible to the blind and visually impaired and thus were in violation of the ADA. This trend is expected to continue into 2017 and beyond—and lawsuits are expected to increase.

Existing ADA Law is Somewhat Ambiguous

Currently, the law is still a bit ambiguous on whether the ADA applies to certain websites and may depend on your company’s state of residence. However, that may change in the future, and all states may be held to the same standards. Although, currently the remedies on the ADA suits are only injunctions for companies to come into compliance with the law and cover attorney’s fees, the involvement of the DOJ would certainly expand those remedies to include civil fines and penalties.

The Best Strategy – Up Your Compliance Now

To avoid getting dragged through a lawsuit, coming into ADA compliance before you become a target is probably your best strategy. There is every indication that the DOJ is going to deem the ADA applies to commercial websites and are already moving in that direction with government websites.

 

The ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments may be a good guideline for changes you can make to your website to bring it into ADA compliance. However, to date, there is no a sure-fire checklist for such compliance.

An Easy Solution to ADA Website Compliance

Internet marketing innovators, Web Perseverance, has developed an easy to use website plug-in that can help bring your site into compliance easily and effectively. To see how the plug-in works, please visit Web Perseverance and click on the little man in a circle icon in the upper right hand corner. To discuss getting this plug-in for your website, contact NY Internet marketing specialist today.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)