Melissa S. Woods presents in a webinar on Best Practices for Remote Labor & Employment Depositions for the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers on June 30th

Melissa S. Woods will participate on a panel titled Best Practices for Remote Labor & Employment Depositions for the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers on June 30th.  The panel will address the laws, rules, and procedures that apply to remote depositions and will discuss their personal experiences in navigating the practical challenges posed by conducting remote depositions to ensure effective, efficient, and ethical results.  Please click here if you would like to register.

CWS Statement – Black Lives Matter

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said decades ago, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  At Cohen, Weiss and Simon LLP, we have been committed for more than 80 years to fighting against injustice and racial inequality. We pledge today to redouble our efforts to help bring about real change in our country–change that is premised on the principle that Black Lives Truly Matter.

We share in the outrage over the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and all of the Black men and women who have been assassinated by police because of the color of their skin.  We join with our clients and colleagues in condemning the systemic racism, police brutality, and injustices that Black people in our country experience on a daily basis.

We understand that justice frequently does not come quietly, and that protests and collective action are often the only means to bring about true change.  We salute all of those who are standing up and fighting for what is right, without fear.  We stand beside you in the struggle. We have witnessed many challenging issues this year: a pandemic resulting in loss of life and jobs for so many, the continued disregard for Black life, and extreme divisions in our country.  We will continue to use our voices and resources to support the movement for change and demand reform on a federal, state and local level.  We commit to working tirelessly to getting out the vote in November.

Cohen, Weiss and Simon LLP will continue to offer support and join with those fighting to bring an end to systemic racism, police brutality, and injustice.  The work is just beginning.  We are here for the long haul.

COVID-19 Update – CWS Operations

As we continue to monitor the COVID-19 outbreak closely, the health and well-being of our staff, clients, colleagues, and their families are of the utmost importance to us. We have been proactively communicating with our staff and clients about steps to take to limit the spread of Covid-19, and asking anyone in our office who is not feeling well to work from home. We have also ceased holding meetings in our office, and encouraged our clients to do the same during this very challenging time.

If circumstances dictate that we close our offices, rest assured that we have a business continuity plan in place that will enable us to provide you with uninterrupted service. To that end, all of us at Cohen Weiss and Simon LLP will work remotely in order to be responsive to your needs throughout an office closure.

For over 70 years, Cohen Weiss and Simon LLP has been committed to providing our union and fund clients with the highest level of professional representation.  Together, we can and will get through these challenging times.

 

Lisa M. Gomez presents at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans’ Trustees and Administrators Institute in Orlando, Florida

February 10-11, 2020

Lisa M. Gomez will present at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans’ Trustees and Administrators Institute on February 10-11, 2020 in Orlando, Florida.  Ms. Gomez will present on “Legislative and Political Changes in Health Care” discussing updates on the federal and state level in health care and looking towards the future with the 2020 presidential election looming.

 

Lisa M. Gomez and Tzvi N. Mackson Present at the American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Employee Benefits Committee’s Midwinter Meeting in Palm Springs, CA

February 5-9, 2020

Lisa M. Gomez and Tzvi N. Mackson will present at the American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Employee Benefits Committee’s Midwinter Meeting in Palm Springs, CA on February 5-9, 2020.  Ms. Gomez will participate in a panel providing a legislative and legal update on coverage of mental health benefits and mental health parity. Mr. Mackson will participate in a panel on new guidance relating to welfare plans and compliance issues the guidance raises.

 

Second Circuit Rules that United States Marshals Service Owed USCSO-Represented Court Security Officers Due Process Protections

October 25, 2019

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled that former Court Security Officers Stephen Atterbury and Daniel Hauschild were owed due process protections by the United States Marshals Service, which ordered their federal contractor employer to fire them without explaining its rationale.

CSOs are deputized by the Marshals Service and employed by federal contractors.  At the time of his discharge, Atterbury had worked as a CSO for almost a decade at the federal courthouse in Rochester, New York.  Hauschild had worked as a CSO for 23 years at the federal courthouse in Poughkeepsie.  Both were members of United States Court Security Officers, a labor union that represents CSOs at federal courthouses nationwide.

The Marshals Service directed Akal Security, Atterbury’s contractor employer, to fire him after he became sick and left work with the permission of his supervisor.  Following an investigation in which Akal sided with Atterbury, the Marshals Service sent Akal a form letter that did not explain why the agency disagreed with Akal’s conclusions.  The Marshals Service did not afford Atterbury a hearing at which he could cross-examine witnesses, even though there were significant discrepancies in written witness statements as to whether Atterbury was really ill or simply mad about an assignment when he left the courthouse.

The Marshals Service directed Akal to fire Hauschild following its initiation of serial investigations into stale, anonymous complaints against him.  Following an investigation in which Akal found no merit to ten of the allegations against him and partially sustained the eleventh, but recommended he be issued only a time served suspension, the Marshals Service sent Akal a cursory letter saying it disagreed with its conclusions.  The Marshals Service refused Hauschild’s request for a hearing.

The collective bargaining agreement that USCSO negotiated with Akal contained language providing that discipline and discharges must be with “just cause.”  A CSO fired by Akal could challenge their termination through the contractual grievance and arbitration process.  But a CSO whose removal was directed by the Marshals Service could not.

Atterbury and Hauschild filed federal lawsuits challenging their terminations pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act.  They alleged that they had a property right in continued employment as CSOs such that the Marshals Service was required to provide them due process protections — namely, notice and a hearing.  Following an unfavorable decision in Atterbury’s case and a favorable decision in Hauschild’s at the trial court level, the cases were consolidated on appeal to the Second Circuit.  There, a three-judge panel ruled unanimously in favor of the CSOs, concluding that they had a property right in continued employment that the Marshals Service had violated when it denied them due process protections.  The Court remanded both cases to the Marshals Service for further processing in accordance with its decision.

CWS attorneys Joshua J. Ellison and Kate M. Swearengen and former CWS attorney Thomas N. Ciantra represented Atterbury and Hauschild.  A copy of the decision can be found here.

Former Court Security Officer Entitled to Jury Trial in Unlawful Discharge Claim

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan has ruled that CWS client and former Court Security Officer Gary Boike is entitled to a jury trial on his federal and state law claims that federal contractor Akal Security, Inc. unlawfully fired him because of his color vision deficiency, commonly known as color-blindness.  A career law enforcement officer, Boike successfully worked for twenty-five years as a police officer and then fifteen years as a CSO before Akal determined that his color vision deficiency, which he has had since birth, meant he could not do the job.

In denying Akal’s motion for summary judgment on Boike’s “regarded-as” disabled claim, Judge Joseph M. Hood determined there was a material dispute as to not only whether Akal performed the requisite individualized inquiry before firing Boike, but also whether the ability to distinguish basic colors is an essential function of the CSO job, and one that Boike could not perform.  Judge Hood also ruled that Akal had not met its burden of showing there was an absence of evidence to support Boike’s claim for punitive damages.

CWS attorneys Joshua J. Ellison and Kate M. Swearengen represented Boike in this case.  A copy of the decision can be found here.

Susan Davis presents at the American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Law 13th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference in New Orleans, LA

November 6-9, 2019

Susan Davis will present at the American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Law 13th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference on November 8, 2019 in New Orleans.  Ms. Davis will participate in a panel entitled “The Ethics of Collective Bargaining: Bigger and Better!”  The program will examine numerous ethical issues that arise in connection with negotiating collective bargaining agreements.

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