201712.20
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Latest News: From the New York Fire Department to Walmart, M&S Stands up for Employees Facing Discrimination in the Workplace

M&S Fights for Black Employees Accusing FDNY of Discrimination

Stephanie Thomas, a computer specialist with the Fire Department, is one of the seven plaintiffs. Credit: Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Mehri & Skalet filed a lawsuit on behalf of a group of African-American New York Fire Department employees alleging a pattern of racial discrimination that cost them promotions and resulted in lower wages than their white counterparts.

A few days after the complaint was filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, Cyrus Mehri appeared at City Hall along with a number of the plaintiffs and said, “We want to change the entire DNA so that it becomes a place where people rise up based on merit, it becomes a place where people are paid fairly, it becomes a place of equal opportunity,”
This lawsuit was led by retired federal Judge U.W. Clemon, Cyrus Mehri and Michael Lieder at M&S and co-counsel at Valli Kane & Vagnini of New York. The complaint seeks a number of remedies, including requiring the NYFD to plan to increase black representation in the department and adjusting pay of black employees that are underpaid.
Recent media coverage includes:
  • New York Times, “Black Employees Accuse Fire Department of Discrimination”
  • Associated Press, “New York fire department faces another discrimination case”
  • New York Daily News, “Black employees sue FDNY for not putting out racism ‘disease'”
  • ABC7NY, “Lawsuit filed against FDNY claiming race discrimination
  • AM NY, “FDNY discriminates against black employees, passing them over for raises and promotions, lawsuit says”
  • CBS NY VIDEO: “Another Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against FDNY”
  • The Amsterdam News, “Civilian FDNY employees file discrimination lawsuit”

New EEOC Charge Says Walmart Fails to Accommodate Pregnant Workers

Mehri & Skalet filed a new Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge in December alleging pregnancy discrimination by Walmart. The charge, brought by Mehri & Skalet along with A Better Balance and the National Women’s Law Center, follows a federal complaint made in May in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. The most recent complaint is on behalf of a 30-year-old single mother of two living in Griffin, GA, who was pushed onto an unpaid leave of absence when she submitted a doctor’s note citing some lifting restrictions due to her pregnancy. As a result, she suffered severe financial hardship during an already vulnerable time.

“Walmart has a pattern of treating pregnant women as second class citizens,” said Ellen Eardley, partner at Mehri & Skalet. “Its practices must change so that pregnant employees who want to work can stay on the job and earn the income they need.”
The filing says that while Walmart changed its policies to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers with “temporary disabilities,” the policy change doesn’t go far enough to fully comply with the law. Even pregnant workers not deemed disabled by Walmart sometimes need accommodations for their health and the law requires equal treatment for these workers.