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Friedman & Houlding LLP filed a racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit on behalf of Gil Elie against his former employers, North Star Fishing Co., Glacier Fish Co., and Cape Horn Vessel.

Mr. Elie, who is African American, alleges in his Complaint that while fishing in the Bering Sea aboard Defendants’ vessel the F/T Cape Horn, his Latino supervisor repeatedly referred to him as  “mayate,” a derogatory Spanish slur for African Americans. Mr. Elie reported his supervisor’s use of racial slurs to Defendants’ management team, whose reaction, Elie alleges, was to admit that the manager himself had been referred to as a vulgar anti-Asian slur and to suggest that Elie respond by calling his Latino supervisor a “stupid pendejo.”  Following his complaint, he was immediately retaliated against and subjected to increasingly hostile harassment.

The environment aboard the vessel made the mistreatment against Mr. Elie uniquely severe. He was in the middle of the ocean, his contact with the outside world was limited to spotty internet connections, and the vessel was not just his place of employment, it was also his temporary home. There was simply no escape for Mr. Elie, and his Complaint alleges that Defendants played on these circumstances to amplify the abuse.

Friedman & Houlding LLP represents 21 African-American Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Newport News Industrials, a subsidiary of Huntington Ingalls, which builds our Carriers and Subs. Some of our clients are veterans.

Plaintiffs are committed to obtaining justice in their long-running lawsuit alleging a racially hostile work environment. Evidence includes nooses at their workstations when they came to work, racist symbols and graffiti displayed openly throughout their workplace, including on t-shirts, headbands, tattoos, toolboxes and in bathrooms, and racial slurs. Plaintiffs testified that they were menaced with nooses, including by a supervisor, were addressed as “boy,” referred to as “n*gger” and were shown a video of white people dancing to Johnny Rebel singing “N*gger Hatin’ Me,” among other racist behavior. And many allege they were treated differently than their white peers when it came to being monitored.  A summary of the conduct the district court found supported Plaintiffs’ right to a jury trial can be found here.

This racism was supported with taxpayer dollars.

A Tennessee woman has filed a Complaint in Davidson County Chancery Court alleging that her employer, Motel 6, did nothing to protect her from harassment based on her HIV positive status–and that she was summarily fired for taking action after the hotel was sold to a franchisee. Friedman & Houlding LLP represents the Plaintiff, Jane Roe, who is proceeding under a pseudonym to protect her personal health information.

Roe worked at a corporate-owned Motel 6 location. When she began taking a medication that could cause dizziness, she informed the two on-site managers about her HIV status so they could take appropriate precautions to protect their own health in the event she fell and was injured on the job.

Roe alleged that one of the managers proceeded to engage in a campaign of harassment based on Roe’s HIV status, including telling numerous coworkers as well as hotel guests that Roe “has AIDS,” telling a pregnant co-worker not to use the employee restroom after Roe, leaving Clorox wipes in the bathroom as a reference to Roe being “unclean,” and mocking Roe by asking about her health, making comments like “you look swollen today, are you sure your health is okay?” Roe alleged that the conduct even escalated to harassing phone calls on the hotel line while Roe was at work.

Friedman & Houlding LLP routinely seeks production of e-mail, texts and video that contain racially and sexually offensive words and images, sent by managers. These are the same managers charged with enforcing the employer’s discrimination and harassment policy. More often than not, we find these same managers are downloading offensive material, and emailing the material to others at the employer. Courts have held this evidence admissible on whether the employer had an effective anti-harassment policy, the bias of those charged with enforcing the alleged anti-discrimination policy, and whether managers were negligent in responding to complaints.
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As the NY Post reported, Stanley Katz, the “Upper West Side landlord who knowingly employed a child rapist as his building super will cough up $2 million to settle . . .” this sexual harassment lawsuit.

super-sleaze-thumb-300x388-55012-1-231x300Friedman & Houlding LLP represented the victims in this sexual harassment suit, working together with federal prosecutors. In the settlement, the defendants consented to a Court Order prohibiting Stanley Katz from managing his buildings, prohibiting all defendants from sexually harassing tenants in the future, and requiring meaningful procedures for tenants to report any future sexual harassment. The victims in the case, including Ms Engle who was photographed for the Post article, showed enormous courage and determination, by facing down their child rapist super and landlord. As Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York noted, “The $2,058,000, agreement represents the largest recovery ever in a sexual harassment suit brought by the United States under the Fair Housing Act.”

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