EMPLOYMENT LAW

With years of experience in this complicated field of law, Meenan & Associates can provide meaningful assistance in challenging unfair work-place treatment, negotiating a severance agreement or mediating employment related problems.

Our attorneys have successfully represented employees at trial and through the appellate process, if necessary.

This extensive range of experience offers tremendous benefit to an employee enduring workplace problems including:

  • Discrimination Matters
  • Hearing Discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Retaliation and Whistleblowing
  • Employment and Severance Agreements

Meenan & Associates has a well-earned reputation of providing commendable personal attention and successful advocacy to clients facing these matters.

Discrimination Matters

Discrimination comes in many different forms. Meenan & Associates has notable experience advocating for clients who face many different types of adverse work place treatment including discrimination based on:

  • Age Discrimination
  • Disability Discrimination;
  • Pregnancy Discrimination
  • Racial Discrimination
  • National Origin Discrimination
  • Sex Discrimination
  • Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Meenan & Associates brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as an empathetic ear, and provides trustworthy counsel to clients in these situations.

Age Discrimination

The federal Age Discrimination Act of 1967, as well as local and state law, protects employees from being treated unfairly based upon age. The law makes clear that employees must be judged based on their abilities. All too often, employers target older workers for demotion, pay cuts, or other forms of unfair termination in an effort to force such individuals into retirement or resignation. This is unlawful.

Meenan & Associates brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as an empathetic ear, and provides trustworthy counsel to clients in these situations.

Disability Discrimination

Amended Americans with Disabilities Act of 2009 (AADA), as well as other local and state law, qualified individuals challenged by some form of disability are protected under the law. Accordingly, the law protects employees, as well as applicants for employment, who experience cancer, mental illness, a learning disability, hearing loss or visual impairments, among other disabling conditions.

Meenan & Associates brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as an empathetic ear, and provides trustworthy counsel to clients in these situations.

Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy is the happiest of times for most women. This miraculous event should not be ruined by unfair work related treatment. Under Federal, state and city law, if an employee is temporarily unable to perform her job due to pregnancy or childbirth, the employer must treat her just as they would a temporarily disabled employee.

A pregnant employee may not be terminated, denied promotion or otherwise treated adversely.

Meenan & Associates brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as an empathetic ear, and provides trustworthy counsel to clients in these situations.

Racial Discrimination

According to the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), racial discrimination includes discrimination based upon ancestry or physical or cultural characteristics associated with a certain race, such as skin color, hair texture or styles, or certain facial features. Color discrimination refers to skin pigmentation (lightness or darkness of the skin), complexion, shade, or tone.

Racial discrimination still exists in our society and often plays out in the workplace. Adverse workplace treatment based upon race can involve unequal pay, denial of promotion, harassment, denial of training and other opportunities. Meenan & Associates brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as an empathetic ear, and provides trustworthy counsel to clients in these situations.

National Origin Discrimination

The United States is the melting pot of the world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all nationalities are treated equally. According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, national origin discrimination covers people who are being treated different because of where they are from, their accents, whether or not they are perceived to be American, or because of an assumed ethnic background. It not only applies to immigrants, but also to Americans working for international companies within the United States, as well as spouses of non-natives.

Meenan & Associates brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as an empathetic ear, and provides trustworthy counsel to clients in these situations.

Sex Discrimination

Adverse treatment at work because of gender is unlawful – whether you are a man or a woman. This type of treatment may affect an employee’s emotional health and well-being, opportunities, promotion or continuing employment..All forms of disparate treatment based upon gender are prohibited by law including differences in salary, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing and bonus plans, life insurance, vacation and holidays, and benefits.

Meenan & Associates brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as an empathetic ear, and provides trustworthy counsel to clients in these situations.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination

The LGBTQ community has succeeded in obtaining equality of treatment in marriage, an entitlement historically available to others. However, and despite the progress this community has achieved, work place discrimination against this population of employees is still not protected in many states or under federal law.

Despite these challenges, Meenan & Associates has been extremely successful in representing employees abused within the workplace.

The firm has litigated numerous cases – some to jury verdicts- for clients who have experienced sexual identity bias. In 2007, the firm successfully tried and won a case against the New York City Police Department for a former NYPD sergeant challenged by sexual orientation bias. The jury awarded him a substantial damage award.

In 2013, the firm earned a victorious decision before the New York State Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. The Court vindicated a lower court decision finding a lesbian school aid had presented sufficient evidence that a New York City Board of Education principle had discriminated against her because of her sexual orientation. This case settled before trial.

Meenan & Associates brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as an empathetic ear, and provides trustworthy counsel to clients in these situations.

Hearing Discrimination

The loss of hearing can have significant effects on an individual’s ability to obtain and maintain employment because of stereotypical thinking about an individual’s ability to function with this condition. This stigmatization unlawfully prevents far too many individuals from obtaining and maintaining certain employment, despite being qualified to perform the job functions at issue.

The number of employees adversely affected by this discrimination is monumental based upon the number of individuals who suffer with this condition. In the United States, an estimated 30 million individuals (12.7 percent of Americans ages 12 years or older) have hearing loss according to a report based upon data contained within a National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES). Globally, hearing loss has been identified as the fifth leading cause of years lived with disability (Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 Collaborators, 2015).

Hearing loss can be present from birth or can have an onset at any age. The causes of hearing loss are often divided into congenital or acquired categories. Congenital causes are those that lead to hearing loss or deafness at birth or soon thereafter, including maternal rubella, syphilis, or certain other infections during pregnancy; low birth weight; lack of oxygen at birth; certain drugs used during pregnancy and severe jaundice in the neonatal period (Morton and Nance, 2006).

Acquired hearing loss may be sudden or gradual in onset and may be caused by meningitis; measles and mumps; otosclerosis (progressive fusion of the ossicles of the middle ear); chronic ear infections; autoimmune or inflammatory disorders; fluid or infection in the ear (otitis media); tympanic membrane (ear drum) thickening or perforations; the use of antibiotics or cancer chemotherapeutic medications; some head injuries or other trauma; long term exposure to excessive noise; cerumen (ear wax) or foreign bodies blocking the ear canal; or aging. (WHO, 2015).

The most common interventions for hearing loss are those that amplify sound to provide sufficient audibility of speech and other sounds, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants.

The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a report finding that hearing loss is a significant public health concern that is influenced and affected by decisions and actions at multiple levels of society. Loss of hearing may to lead to a reduction in an individual’s quality of life due to communication challenges that can affect interactions with others. Equally debilitating for any individual is that hearing loss can cause loss of employment or loss of employment opportunities because of the stigma attached to individuals who suffer with this condition.

As Katherine Bouton, a noted writer and former editor at the New York Times observed in her book “Shouting Won’t Help Why I – and 50 Million Other Americans – Can’t hear You,” – “[p]eople who lose their hearing are afraid to be open about it because they fear the reaction – the prejudice, fear of seeming old or stupid.” Bouton details her own experience with hearing loss and notes that she suffered a loss of confidence when assigned to a new editor who claimed she was not a team player and not on board with the program. Bouton attributes this unfair assessment of her performance to her hearing loss. Rather than acknowledge her disability and ask for appropriate workplace accommodations, Bouton left her employment with the Times.

In early 2011, Meenan & Associates represented Sergeant Jim Phillips and Deputy Inspector Dan Carione, New York City police officers, who filed a charge of discrimination with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after they were forced to retire because of work related hearing loss. Both men were in their forties with many years of service ahead of them. The police department maintained a policy which prohibited the use of hearing aids causing the involuntary retirement of both officers, two highly decorated public servants who required the use of these amplification devices to address work related hearing loss. A police department spokesperson, Paul J. Browne, was quoted in a New York Times story about the case as saying that hearing aids were “incompatible with police work because they were vulnerable to mechanical failure, earwax buildup or any number of things.” As these officers challenged the department policy in subsequent litigation in federal court, the police department maintained this defense and further claimed that hearing aids do not restore normal hearing, making an officer with hearing loss unqualified for police service.

In 2015, on the day a jury was to be selected for trial, the City of New York offered to settle the issues raised in the litigation. Both Deputy Inspector Carione and Sergeant Phillips made it clear that they would not agree to settle unless the police department changed its policy. The police department agreed to review its policy leading to the issuance of a new policy in early 2016. The new policy does permit tenured police officers to work with a hearing aid after certain defined testing is performed and evaluated by the Medical Division.

Unfortunately, while the City of New York agreed to a change in the policy prohibiting the use of hearing aids by tenured police officers, it permitted the police department to maintain a policy which prohibited the use of hearing aids by applicants.

Accordingly, the firm recently filed another action to challenge the medical disqualification of a police applicant who wears hearing aids to address a congenital hearing defect. This candidate has been tested with his hearing aids and those test results reveal that he has hearing sufficient to perform the job duties and functions of a police officer. For this reason, it is anticipated that this policy will also be changed. In the not too distant future, and as a result of this latest action, other police applicants will be given the chance to prove they too are qualified, despite hearing loss.

Meenan & Associates has been at the forefront of developing effective legal strategies to address the stigma and adverse treatment of qualified individuals who have been denied employment due to hearing loss. All too often it is assumed that such individuals cannot perform certain jobs, not based upon their actual performance but rather on stereotypical thinking about disabled persons. It is just this type of sentiment that the law is designed to protected against. To be clear, it is unlawful to deny employment to a qualified individual with a disability.

Meenan & Associates brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as an empathetic ear, and provides trustworthy counsel to clients in these situations.

Harassment

The most common form of harassment is sexual harassment, but there are other forms of harassment, as well. The law does not permit any employee to be offended, humiliated, assaulted and targeted at work because of his or her gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion, race or national origin.

In sum, workplace harassment is unlawful and employers have an affirmative obligation to ensure that a workplace is safe and free from unwanted harassment. Employers who permit these wrongdoings can be held responsible for the consequences.

Meenan & Associates brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as an empathetic ear, and provides trustworthy counsel to clients in these situations.

Retaliation and Whistleblowing

Retaliation

An employer may look to punish an employee for seeking out publicly about workplace issues and other matters. The law makes it quite clear that an employee cannot be fired, demoted, harassed, or discriminated against because the employee has made a complaint, caused an investigation or testified as a witness in court or in other proceedings involving the employer.

Meenan & Associates brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as an empathetic ear, and provides trustworthy counsel to clients in these situations.

Whistleblowing

All too often corporate greed or governmental abuse and inaction has profound adverse consequences for unknowing consumers and the public. These matters can involve a hospital or a medical group fraudulently billing Medicare or Medicaid for medical care that was never provided; a corporation or governmental agency placing a defective drug or product on the market; a company deliberately engaging in business practices designed to defraud investors, among others. Meenan & Associates has a proven and successful track record of providing effective legal assistance to individuals who witness corporate and governmental fraud and want to address it.

We can provide experienced and trustful legal assistance to employees or other contract workers who have witnessed work place fraud and abuse and want to address it. Our attorneys understand that speaking truth to power is extremely difficult, but enormously beneficial to the otherwise unknowing public. We have a proven track record of successfully advocating against powerful companies and governmental organizations.

Both the state of New York and the federal government have laws providing various forms of protection for public and private citizens who help uncover fraud. In the federal government, such claims are brought under a statute known as the “False Claims Act,” which is commonly referred to as a “qui tam” action. The colloquial term is an abbreviation of a Latin phrase which translates as “he who sues for the king as well as himself.” The False Claims Act allows an individual known as the “relator” to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the United States, and is contingent upon the relator having information that proves that the named individual has caused the submission of false or fraudulent claims to the United States.

Federal law provides for a reward of 15-25% of the money recovered when the claim is filed by the government, and 30% if the individual does it alone. The reward is based on the amount of useful information that is provided. Hiring a lawyer to negotiate the terms of the reward can greatly increase the percentage that the whistleblower receives.

Whistleblowing is a time sensitive matter because the federal government applies a “first to file” rule, meaning that the first person to file a claim against an entity de-frauding the government is entitled to a reward paid by the government. Therefore, whistleblowing cases must be filed as soon as possible.

Meenan & Associates is a trusted and effective advocate in these matters.

Employment and Severance Agreements

Employment Agreements

Various forms of employment require a written agreement between the employee and the employer. Many employees, excited after being hired and eager to commence a new career, do not wish to “rock the boat” in protracted contract negotiations. However, this is an extremely part of the employment relationship and one fraught with unforeseen consequences if not properly addressed.

Meenan & Associates is experienced in reviewing, assessing and negotiating the best possible contract terms for a client, while understanding how sensitive these matters can be.

Severance Agreements

In the current economy, very few employees remain with one employer until retirement. For this reason, employees change jobs frequently during the course of their working career, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes not. Meenan & Associates understands the challenges employees now face and, most importantly, understands an amicable resolution of an employment relationship is in the best interest of all involved.

Meenan & Associates has tremendous experience negotiating severance agreements with employers to ensure an employee’s rights, interests and benefits are protected.

Philadelphia office
1635 Market Street, Suite 1600
Philadelphia, PA 19103
By Appointment Only

Tampa office
1725 East Fifth Avenue
Tampa, FL 33605
By Appointment Only