Employment & Labor

Reality TV star, socialite, and businesswoman Kim Kardashian West is currently facing criticism for allegedly mistreating and failing to pay her employees overtime wages. Seven of West’s employees, who clean and maintain her California home, filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court presenting a series of claims including retaliation, violation of child labor laws, and failure to report employement to tax authorities. According to Frank Kim, a Los Angeles attorney, the plaintiffs shared that they were not “given mandated meals and breaks, provided a means to record all their hours, were not paid all their overtime wages,” and…
With the significant increase in fiduciary breach class actions, plan fiduciaries have added provisions, including mandatory arbitrations, to their contracts, in an effort to gain control of and rein in litigation. The burning question, however, is where do the courts stand on forcing ERISA plan participants to engage in arbitration. Carol Buckmann, cofounding partner of Cohen & Buckmann and a foremost authority in ERISA and pension law, explores this in her three-part series, “Using Mandatory Arbitration to Avoid ERISA Class Actions,” published in Bloomberg Law. Carol examines the statutory framework of ERISA, presents unanswered questions with which the courts…
Recently, 117 employees of Houston Methodist in Texas filed a lawsuit over the vaccination mandate the hospital system put in place. In March, Houston Methodist offered $500 to employees who chose to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. They also stated that at some point vaccinations would be a requirement and set a June 7 deadline for all employees to get vaccinated. Jennifer Bridges, a registered nurse at Houston Methodist, began a petition against this policy and is now leading the lawsuit against the hospital system. According to a recent CBS News article, the lawsuit argues that mandating the vaccine “requires…
With COVID-19 vaccination rates increasing and cases trending downwards recently, the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel is getting brighter. Many New Yorkers are eager to return to a pre-pandemic lifestyle. However, not everything will look the same. For instance, your employer could require you to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to work. EEOC weighs in on mandatory vaccinations The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently provided vaccination guidance for employers across the U.S. The agency said that employers can require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, employers requiring vaccinations must also provide reasonable accommodations for workers who cannot…
For the last year, personal and social responsibility have weighed heavily on the minds of Americans amidst the global Covid-19 pandemic. Social distancing, and other safety measures, left individuals in hovels, ruminating on the simple joys previously taken for granted and conceiving of ways to shirk responsibility at the first moment’s notice. As state and local economies open up following vaccination efforts around the country, many see this as an opportunity to capitalize on those impulsive urges. Reopenings mean that while people may be in search of opportunities to go buck wild, they will also be headed back to the…
Treading water is a good thing, right? That is certainly a reasonable assumption in a sink-or-swim situation, but swimming in place hardly seems a victory if others are lapping you in the pool. Now, imagine that swimming pool as the American labor market. Legions of male employees in New York and across the country might not readily connect with an on-the-job analogy that underscores simply staying afloat. Many women will, though. And here’s why: According to data compiled by the Pew Research Center, the country’s female labor force has essentially remained at a standstill relative to its male peers in…
Carol Buckmann, cofounding partner of Cohen & Buckmann, was invited to speak at the Twelve Points Retirement Advisors’ webinar, “Not Doing RFPs for your Retirement Plan? Learn Why This Can Be a Costly Mistake Your Organization is Making,” on June 17, 2021 @ 12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. A well-conducted RFP is a critical part of a prudent fiduciary process. It helps retirement plan fiduciaries find the best service providers and positions them to respond to claims of breach of fiduciary duty, if or when they arise. Carol Buckmann will join Twelve Points Retirement Advisors cofounder and president Francesca…
Joshua Payne-Elliot worked as a teacher at a cathedral school for 10 years in Indiana. In 2019, Joshua was fired from his position because he got married to someone of the same sex. The archdiocese believes that same-sex marriage is against their religion, and therefore should not be promoted (nor supported) within their school system. Joshua believes he has been the target of discrimination based upon his sexual orientation. Joshua sued the archdiocese in the court case Joshua Payne-Elliott v. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Inc. The court case was recently dismissed on May 7, 2021 because the court…
Our firm represents Mohamed Abdelal in his employment discrimination lawsuit against the NYPD on the basis of his Egyptian national origin, Middle Eastern ancestry, and Muslim religion.  Mr. Abdelal was fired notwithstanding a strong record as a police officer and following an expansive and fruitless two year internal affairs investigation into perceived ties to terrorism.  The investigation, which involved law enforcement agencies including the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Department of Homeland Security, was not justified by any evidence suggesting Mr. Abdelal had links to terrorism or terrorist organizations, and was fueled by speculation that Mr. Abdelal was a…
Workers in New York whose wages are at or just above minimum wage struggle every day to earn a living for themselves and their families. Things only get tougher when their employer commits wage theft against them. Unfortunately, this insidious practice is widespread among some of the United States’ largest corporations, who tend to target their lowest-paid employees, according to a new study discussed by ABC News. How companies steal millions of dollars in wages every year A review of nearly 15 years of data compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor revealed millions of dollars of wage theft each…
Last year, a teacher at Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville, Florida was removed from her position after hanging a Black Lives Matter (BLM) flag outside her classroom. Lee was a segregated, whites only school until 1971. Since then, important work has been done at the school and within the community to combat the deep-seeded racism that is part of the school’s history. A recent NPR article provides one example: “. . . a student group called the EVAC Movement, focused on reframing Black youth in Jacksonville from “at risk” to “at hope,” met with then-President Barack Obama in 2016…
NEW YORK (May 24, 2021) – Boutique law firm Cohen & Buckmann, P.C. has been named to the list of top law firms and lawyers by Chambers and Partners, a UK-based company considered by many to publish the most researched and coveted rankings of top law firms and lawyers in the U.S. and around the world. The firm and its founding partners, Sandra Cohen and Carol Buckmann, were ranked for their employee benefits and executive compensation practices. This was the firm’s first submission, making the inclusion even more significant; the publication is known for and readily admits that it typically…