Employers have a moral and legal obligation to maintain a healthy workplace free of discrimination and sexual harassment. When an employer violates labor law, workers can sue their employers either individually or through a class action lawsuit. This can bring compensation for back pay and front pay, as well as emotional and punitive damages. Such actions are especially common in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY).
Recently, Lex Machina reviewed three years of employment litigation in the United States, and their report found that EDNY produces a disproportionate number of these cases. Despite possessing less than 3% of the US population, the district sees roughly 5% of all cases of employment litigation. If you work in New York’s Eastern District, reach out to the employment discrimination lawyers at the law firm of Console & Associates, P.C. Call 866-778-5500 or fill out our online form to find out more.
The Eastern District of New York is one of the most populous areas in the United States, with a population of eight million people living in five counties. Thi district area saw more than 3,200 of these employment lawsuits in recent years, which is around five percent of all such lawsuits in America. While there are many other types of employment litigation, the most common cases deal with violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or unlawful retaliation against employees.
Title VII requires employers to operate a fair, healthy workplace and enshrines the following groups as protected classes:
There are two distinct types of discrimination that fall under Title VII. The first is identity-based discrimination, particularly race and sex/gender. The Lex Machina study found 2,022 race discrimination cases and 2,005 sex/gender claims between 2022 and 2023. This often deals with discriminatory hiring practices, while hostile work environment (HWE) claims are treated separately.
A hostile work environment claim centers on workplaces that have not discriminated in hiring, but which treat protected groups so poorly as to constitute discrimination. While the plaintiff’s subjective experience of workplace hostility is important, it doesn’t constitute proof on its own. Rather, proving a HWE claim relies on providing evidence that a “reasonable person” would find the workplace hostile. HWE claims are almost as common as either race or sex litigation, with 1,931 claims between 2020 and 2022. These claims can be rooted in any protected characteristic, such as race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. While technically falling under Title VII, they are often treated separately due to their distinctive nature. In a hostile work environment claim, the employee asserts that the employer either created or allowed a work environment so hostile that it equates to discrimination. To substantiate an HWE claim, the plaintiff must demonstrate that a “reasonable person” would perceive the work environment as hostile and that the plaintiff subjectively experienced it as such.
However, retaliation is the single most common cause of employment discrimination lawsuits in America. From 2020 to 2022, employees filed 4,170 such cases against their employers. Retaliation occurs when an employer abuses its power over workers to punish them for exercising their rights. Common causes for retaliation include an employee rejecting sexual advances in the workplace, calling attention to discrimination, discussing wages, or cooperating with discrimination investigations. Employers are prohibited from initiating adverse employment actions based on a worker’s participation in any of the following protected activities:
The Lex Machina study found four employers that faced the greatest number of discrimination lawsuits from 2020-2022:
Walmart is a massive company with more than two million employees, and it tops the list of most-sued employers. During the period in question, Walmart Inc. and its associate branches have seen more than 678 employees sue the company. UPS has an impressive 500,000 employees and saw 297 lawsuits from employees.
Amazon Services, LLC is another giant with 1.5 million employees. It placed third on the list, with 207 employment discrimination claims. Lowe’s stands out for being the smallest company in the top four, with 300,000 employees and a proportionately high 190 employment claims.
Larger corporations tend to have more employees, which makes them more likely to feature on the list of employers facing numerous lawsuits. One could argue that larger companies also have a stronger motivation to test the boundaries of questionable employment practices due to the significant potential gains involved. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to clarify that this list shouldn’t be interpreted as an indication that these companies committed the most employment violations; rather, it reflects that they were the ones dealing with the highest number of employment-related lawsuits.
Individuals who have encountered workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, or retaliation for exposing unfair employment practices can pursue legal action against their employer. It’s vital to understand that employers often resist taking responsibility for their questionable actions and employ extensive measures to evade liability. Therefore, to ensure that these claims receive the attention and resolution they deserve, we recommend seeking the guidance of an experienced EDNY employment attorney. Call 866-778-5500 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.