Since 1988 Mr. Friedman has represented numerous clients in sexual harassment, age, race, sex and disability discrimination cases, in federal and state courts, arbitration and mediation. He has also represented plaintiffs in sexual orientation discrimination, same-sex sexual harassment cases, and class action suits. Here is selection of some of the matters he has litigated to verdict or settlement.
Jackson et al v. Halliburton and Kellogg Brown and Root Arbitrations:
- We recently acted as counsel in two separate hearings on behalf of three African-American KBR employees who had worked in Hungary and the Balkans supporting our troops, who brought suit against the defendants under The Civil Rights Act of 1964. Halliburton requires, as a condition of employment, that their employees waive their right to trial by jury of their civil rights claims, and sign an "agreement" to arbitrate their civil rights claims. In our view mandatory pre-dispute arbitration agreements are a violation of the spirit of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- which Dr. King and others strugled long and hard to enact -- which expressly allows a jury trial. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that mandatory arbitration is legal, however, Congress is currently considering legislation which would overrule the Supreme Court’s decision.
- Click on the links to read the decisions: In the JACKSON DECISION the arbitrator found that Halliburton and KBR had discriminated against Mr. Jackson based on his race. In the OTHER DECISION, the arbitrator denied claims of racial discrimination.
In re Rio Mar Restaurant 98/115964:
- Trial before the New York State Division of Human Rights (NYSDHR). The facts involved non-consensual digital penetration, one other violent sexual assault, and other incidents that were in the nature of a hostile work environment harassment, perpetrated by the individual owner of two restaurants. The Judge awarded $500,000 for emotional pain and suffering plus approximately $80,000 for economic loss. The Commissioner affirmed.
- The award for pain and suffering is the highest affirmed by the Commissioner of the NYSDHR. In his decision the Commissioner found that the defendant's credibility had been destroyed on cross-examination, which warranted the trier of fact believing the complaining witness's testimony on the two sexual assaults, in the absence of a third-party witnesses. The General Counsel of the NYSDHR stated that the transcript of the trial would be used as a "road map" for the use of psychologists as expert witnesses.
- The defendants appealed to the First Department, which reduced the pain and suffering award to $125,000 without opinion.
Out-Of-Court Settlement of Sex and Race Discrimination claims:
- This was a sex and race discrimination matter that was settled before suit (the parties' names are non-public). The settlement amount was slightly in excess of $1 million. The client did not have a strong case at the outset. She had run several of its subsidiary companies for a number of years, was an Executive Vice President, and had a good track record, however, the white male chosen for the position had roughly equal experience and was well thought of as well.
- Our initial contact at the company was with the General Counsel. We were able to take advantage of pre-filing correspondence, in which he admitted key facts; e.g., that our client was a good performer. Consequently,we were able to drive the initial offer, which was in the low six figures, to over $1 million, by pointing out that he had conceded certain defenses.
Slader et al v. Pearle Vision Inc. et al. S.D.N.Y. 00-Civ.2797:
This was a class-action suit, that alleged that Pearle Vision, a national optical chain, systematically underpays minority employees. It is a disparate impact case. The factual basis for the claims is the statistical analysis we conducted, with the assistance of a statistician, of the defendant's personnel files. The court ordered the files produced and eventually concluded that there was evidence that established disparate impact. The court declined to certify a class at this stage because he concluded that the four representative plaintiffs lacked standing.
Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Claims against NASD Member Firm:
- Case against a member of the N.A.S.D. brought by a registered representative, alleging hostile work environment sexual harassment and disability discrimination. We initially brought this case in the Southern District of New York under federal, state and local laws. We opposed a motion to compel arbitration at a time when the N.A.S.D. was considering a rule exempting employment discrimination cases from compulsory arbitration. Once a national consensus to grant such motions was apparent, we dismissed the case without prejudice, as of right. We waited until the proposed new rule was adopted and became effective, and then brought the state and local claims in New York State Supreme Court, thereby circumventing the mandatory arbitration rule that was in effect when the client initially contacted us. The case was eventually settled for more than weI would have expected to obtain had the matter been subject to compulsory arbitration.
Joel "Doe" v. Big-Six Accounting Firm:
- This was a same sex quid pro quo harassment matter. We settled it pre-filing for $300,000. The client alleged that the chairman of a Big-Six accounting firm, who was then running for reelection, had sexually molested him. There was no evidence other that our client's recollection.
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment case in Michigan (2005):
- This case featured truly horrific facts, which we will not describe. During her deposition the plaintiff gave a graphic description of how the harassment had degraded her and destroyed her confidence. The settlement amount was in the $400,000 range.
Settlement of a Sexual Harassment Hostile Work Environment1 Claim:
- The fact that our client had saved her harasser’s love letters, and the fact that this case was brought in the Bronx, NY convinced the employer’s insurance carrier to approach us immediately after suit was filed to request that we consider settlement. The case settled in the $500,000 range. This case was a rare exception to the general rule that if and when a case settles, it is after discovery2 is complete, just before trial, once the defendant’s attorneys have gained an understanding of the strength of the plaintiff’s case. Discovery can take one or two years, and in some complex cases, longer. We will not represent someone based on the assumption that a case will settle. If we take a case, we make a commitment to try it to a jury, if it does not settle.
1A hostile work environment claim is a claim that an employer or school made the environment hostile to the plaintiff based on sex, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or some other illegal reason. Examples are unwanted sexual attention, language or conduct, which creates a hostile environment based on sex, or the use of racial slurs, which creates a hostile environment based on race. Unfortunately, many of us work in hostile environments where we are humiliated, insulted and bullied. While undoubtedly such conduct creates a "hostile" work environment, it is only an illegal hostile work environment if the harassment is done for some illegal reason, such as sex, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or some other illegal reason.
2Discovery is the process whereby the plaintiff and the defendant learn about the strengths and weaknesses of each other’s cases. During discovery the parties examine the documents each side possess and answer written questions from opposing counsel through affidavits called interrogatories. After this, the parties, and other witnesses, give depositions, in which they are asked questions by the opposing attorney under oath, and the questions and answers are transcribed by a court reporter.
PRIOR RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE A SIMILAR OUTCOME