Posts tagged with "age"

I Was Laid Off Due to Restructuring, but My Position Was Filled Two Days Later. I Was Forced to Sign a Separation Agreement. Can I Sue for Compensation in Connecticut?

An at-will employee can be terminated for any lawful reason in Connecticut.  For example, if you are an at-will employee, your company can terminate you for “restructuring,” even if they fill your same position days later.  Technically, an at-will employee is owed no explanation for termination.   Regardless, there are exceptions to an employment at-will termination.  You may not be terminated in any such way that violates your civil rights.  An example of this would be if you were terminated for your age, gender, or race.  Whether you have been terminated for any one of these reasons would rely heavily on the specific facts of the case.  To determine whether you may sue for compensation it would be important to sit down with an experienced employment attorney to go through every fact and circumstances of your employment.

In the same respect, you may have a claim for compensation if you were forced to sign the separation agreement under fraud or misrepresentation.  Again, it is important to describe to an employment attorney every detail about the separation agreement to determine your case.

If you have any questions involving employment law in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

I Was Laid Off Due to Restructuring, but My Position Was Filled Two Days Later. I Was Forced to Sign a Separation Agreement. Can I Sue for Compensation in Connecticut?

An at-will employee can be terminated for any lawful reason in Connecticut.  For example, if you are an at-will employee, your company can terminate you for “restructuring,” even if they fill your same position days later.  Technically, an at-will employee is owed no explanation for termination.   Regardless, there are exceptions to an employment at-will termination.  You may not be terminated in any such way that violates your civil rights.  An example of this would be if you were terminated for your age, gender, or race.  Whether you have been terminated for any one of these reasons would rely heavily on the specific facts of the case.  To determine whether you may sue for compensation it would be important to sit down with an experienced employment attorney to go through every fact and circumstances of your employment.

In the same respect, you may have a claim for compensation if you were forced to sign the separation agreement under fraud or misrepresentation.  Again, it is important to describe to an employment attorney every detail about the separation agreement to determine your case.

If you have any questions involving employment law in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

What is Employment Discrimination in Connecticut?

While the law does not protect employees from all types of behavior, it does protect employees from discrimination and harassment.  Accordingly, it is a violation of the law for an employer to refuse to hire or promote a person, or to discipline, terminate, harass or otherwise treat an employee differently because of certain characteristics.  These characteristics include:  (1) race or color; (2) national origin; (3) religion; (4) age; (5) sex/gender (including pregnancy and medical conditions relating to pregnancy); (6) sexual orientation; (7) physical or  mental disability, including learning disability; (8) genetic information; (9) marital status; or (10) in certain circumstances, criminal record.

If you have any questions related to sexual harassment and discrimination in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

What is Employment Discrimination in Connecticut?

While the law does not protect employees from all types of behavior, it does protect employees from discrimination and harassment.  Accordingly, it is a violation of the law for an employer to refuse to hire or promote a person, or to discipline, terminate, harass or otherwise treat an employee differently because of certain characteristics.  These characteristics include:  (1) race or color; (2) national origin; (3) religion; (4) age; (5) sex/gender (including pregnancy and medical conditions relating to pregnancy); (6) sexual orientation; (7) physical or  mental disability, including learning disability; (8) genetic information; (9) marital status; or (10) in certain circumstances, criminal record.

If you have any questions related to sexual harassment and discrimination in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Firing to Prevent Pension Vesting, Without More, Does Not Violate ADEA

In this economy, companies are terminating employees in an effort to increase share value or simply improve the bottom line.  Often it is the older, more senior, and more costly employees that are the first to go.  The question sometimes arises: “Can my employer fire me to prevent my pension from vesting (thereby saving itself money) without violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?”  The short and surprising answer is “yes,” assuming the absence of other critical allegations necessary to sustain an ADEA claim.

In a recent case out of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, a Connecticut employee alleged in his Complaint only that “he was fired by defendants because he was nearing the age of retirement.”  The lower court dismissed this claim and the appellate court affirmed because this was the only fact alleged in the Complaint as evidence of age discrimination.  The United States Supreme Court has held that the firing of an employee to prevent his pension benefits from vesting does not, without more, violate the ADEA.

What essential allegations were missing?  In order to prevail, the plaintiff had to allege facts evincing that his employer was using pension status as a proxy for age, in order to discriminate on the basis of age.  How could he do that?  One way would be to plead and prove that his pension vested due to age and not years of service.  While age and years of service are empirically connected, the Supreme Court has said that they are “analytically distinct.”  What the Complaint lacked were additional allegations supporting a claim of age discrimination, for a successful ADEA plaintiff must prove that age actually motivated the employer’s decision.

The take-away from this case is that victims of age discrimination should consult with an experienced employment law litigator to ensure that an actionable claim is properly alleged in a Complaint.  In the case referred to above, it is impossible to say whether the plaintiff would have prevailed with a more artfully crafted Complaint.  What we do know is that his bare-bones Complaint was dismissed as insufficient without ever being heard on its merits.

The employment law attorneys in the Westport, Connecticut office of Maya Murphy, P.C. have extensive experience in the negotiation and litigation of all sorts of employment-related disputes and assist clients from Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan, Darien, Norwalk, Westport and Fairfield in resolving such issues. Please contact our Westport office at 203-221-3100.

 

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Employers Not Liable for Doing “Stupid” or Even “Wicked” Things

Employment discrimination laws protect employees from discrimination.  They do not protect against “ordinary workplace experiences” that offend one’s sensibilities or result in hurt feelings.  A Connecticut woman found that out the hard way when a Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment against her.  There was no dispute as to any material fact and the employer was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.  Thus, there was no need for a trial on the merits.

The employee in question was fired from her “at will” position as Public Relations Coordinator for a large corporation because of her volatile workplace behavior spanning three years.  She claimed that she was fired because of her age, and that she had suffered intentional infliction of emotional distress as a result.

Under the applicable law, the employee must first establish a prima facie case of discrimination.  If she does, the burden then shifts to the employer to articulate a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the adverse employment action.  Assuming such a reason, the employee may then prevail if she can show that the employer’s action was in fact the result of discrimination, i.e., that the stated reason is “pretextual.”  The employee must further prove that age was a “but for” cause for the challenged action and not merely a contributing or motivating factor.  In this case, the employee was unable to show that her age was the sole, i.e., “but for” cause of her termination.

In fairness to the employer, the employee’s insubordination was evident from the record.  On one occasion, the employee asked her manger if she had “stopped taking her medication.”  Nor did some favorable evaluations raise a genuine issue of material fact as to pretext.  The court concluded that isolated positive feedback was entirely consistent with the explanation for her termination: sporadic inappropriate behavior over the course of several years.  A reasonable jury would have no reason to doubt the employer’s explanation for the employee’s discharge.

The employee also complained about the “tone” that was used with her and that she was “distraught” about negative comments she received.  This formed the basis for her claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress.  The court had no trouble dismissing this claim, as well.  “These ordinary workplace experiences clearly do not rise to the level of being ‘so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized society.’”  It was in this context that the court made the observation that employers are not liable for doing stupid or even wicked things in the absence of a sufficient connection between the employee’s age and termination of her employment.

The employment law attorneys in the Westport, Connecticut office of Maya Murphy, P.C. have extensive experience in the negotiation and litigation of all sorts of employment-related disputes and assist clients from Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan, Darien, Norwalk, Westport and Fairfield in resolving such issues. Please contact our Westport office at 203-221-3100.

 

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Adoption: The Gift of a Nurturing Home

Leigh Ryan, Esq. is an attorney with Maya Murphy, P.C., a full service law firm with offices in Westport, CT and New York City. Ms. Ryan is licensed to practice law in Connecticut and New York.

Connecticut telephone number: (203) 221-3100; New York telephone number: (212) 682-5700; Firm url: www. Mayalaw.com; E-mail: LRyan@Mayalaw.com

As children, many of us dreamt about having a family of our own, about our significant other, marriage, a house and children. But as we grow older, we realize that dreams do not always materialize in the way we thought they would. Families are no longer expected to be comprised of a mother, a father and 2.3 children. Just as the definition of family has changed, so have the requirements for adoption. Many adoption agencies and courts no longer discriminate based upon marital status, age, religion or race. They have recognized that these differences do not affect a potential parent’s ability to be a good parent.

Along with the recognition that each potential parent is different, comes the fact that each child in search of a home is different. Many of the children available for adoption are in foster care and are there because their biological parents could not care for them. As a result, many suffer from physical, emotional and mental challenges. Currently, there are 129,000 children in foster care waiting to be adopted. More than two-thirds of children in foster care are aged 6 or older, and more than half are minorities. In Connecticut, over 4,000 children are in the care of the State Department of Children and Families due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. And, they are all searching for one thing: A loving and supportive home environment.

Adopting a child can have significantly positive effects on that child’s life. Studies have shown that adopted children score higher than their middle-class counterparts on indicators of school performance, social competency, optimism and volunteerism. The 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents indicated that adopted children were more likely to read every day as a young child, more likely to be sung to or told stories, more likely to participate in extracurricular activities and have above-average performances in reading, language arts, and math, than that of the children of the general population.

Adopting a baby or child can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life and one of the most amazing gifts to a child. However, the process can be complicated and involve various federal and state laws. It is important to have a Connecticut adoption lawyer to represent you in the adoption process.

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Our family law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best divorce attorneys and family attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut divorce or New York divorce today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a divorce law attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free divorce consultation as well as free consultation on all other familial matters. Divorce in CT and divorce in NYC is difficult, but education is power. Call our family law office in CT today.

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Adoptive Children and Communications with their Biological Parents

Leigh Ryan, Esq. is an attorney with Maya Murphy, P.C., a full service law firm with offices in Westport, CT and New York City. Ms. Ryan is licensed to practice law in Connecticut and New York.

Connecticut telephone number: (203) 221-3100; New York telephone number: (212) 682-5700; Firm url: www. Mayalaw.com; E-mail: LRyan@Mayalaw.com

One of adoptive parents’ principal concerns is that of the role of the biological parents. Can a biological parent change their minds about the adoption? Can the biological parents communicate with the adopted child? Can the adopted child ever find out information about his/her biological parent(s)? All these questions can be nerve-racking for individuals who wish to adopt.

The reality is that in all states, the biological parents have a period of time in which they can revoke their consent to the adoption. In Connecticut, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-719 allows for a birth parent to file a petition to set aside an order voluntarily terminating parental rights at any time before the entry of the final adoption decree. However, a biological parent’s ability to revoke may be terminated in cases of abandonment, failure to support the child, or abuse and neglect. Once the court issues a final decree of adoption, a birth parent’s consent becomes final and irrevocable.

After a final adoption decree, it is possible for the adoptive child and biological parents to communicate. The extent of that communication can be negotiated prior to the final adoption decree. In some cases, biological parents and intended adoptive parents enter into what is known as a Cooperative Postadoption Agreement. This is a written agreement between either or both birth parents and an intended adoptive parent(s) regarding communication or contact contacteither or both birth parents and the adopted child. It is in the Cooperative Postadoption Agreement that the extent of involvement of the birth parents can be defined.

In the case of Cooperative Postadoption Agreements, the identity of the biological parents is known. However, generally, adoption records are sealed and only non-identifying information is provided to the adoptive parents or adopted child (if he/she is an adult) upon request. This non-identifying information includes (1) age of biological parents in years at the birth; (2) heritage of the biological parent or parents; (3) education stated in the number of years of school completed; (4) general physical appearance of the biological parent(s); (5) talents, hobbies and special interests of the biological parent or parents; (6) existence of any other child or children born to either biological parent of the adopted or adoptable person; (7) reasons for placing the child for adoption or for biological parental rights being terminated; (8) religion of biological parent or parents; (9) field of occupation of biological parent or parents in general terms; (10) health history of biological parent or parents and blood relatives; (11) manner in which plans for the adopted or adoptable person’s future were made by biological parent or parents; (12) relationship between the biological parents; (13) any psychological, psychiatric or social evaluations; and (14) any other relevant non-identifying information.

In the event that the adoptive parents or adopted adult child wishes to learn the identity of the biological parents, written consent must first be obtained from the person whose identity is being request. Therefore, the identity of the birth parents (if not already known) will remain unknown unless the birth parent(s) consents.

Given the significant impact that contact with biological parents can have on the adopted child, it is important to have an attorney who is well versed in adoption law.
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Our family law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best divorce attorneys and family attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut divorce or New York divorce today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a divorce law attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free divorce consultation as well as free consultation on all other familial matters. Divorce in CT and divorce in NYC is difficult, but education is power. Call our family law office in CT today.

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The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990

Being laid off from a job is enough of a confusing and disheartening experience.  Adding to the complexity of severance packages and Separation Agreements is the potential for an age discrimination claim, a prospect that companies go to great lengths to prevent.  It is not infrequent for companies to lay off senior employees in favor of younger employees who will cost less to the company. In doing so, companies may open themselves up to an age discrimination claim. If you believe that you have been laid off due to your age, it is vital to explore your options before signing the Agreement, as a signature often means a release of all potential claims against your employer. The employment attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. have experience in these types of claims and can take the lead in reviewing and negotiating a Separation Agreement.

In response to a 1989 landmark Supreme Court decision, Congress passed the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 (“OWBPA”), requiring that a Separation Agreement contain certain provisions and amending the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees 40 years of age or older, to include employee benefits. Specifically, the statute gives a terminated employee a time period in which to review the Agreement before signing and the opportunity to rescind approval of the Agreement subsequent to signing.  It ensures that no employee is pressured into signing legal waivers of their rights under the ADEA.

Connecticut’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) website (http://www.ct.gov/chro/site/default.asp) as well as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s site (http://www.ct.gov/chro/site/default.asp) provide valuable information and resources on the topic of age, and other types, of discrimination.  In addition, the attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. have extensive employment experience and are ready to assist with any issues relating to employment contracts, severance packages, and potential discrimination claims.  Should you have any questions, please contact the Maya Murphy office located in Westport at 203-221-3100.

 

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Court Modifies Alimony Based on Cohabitation

In a recent post judgment divorce action, the Court found that the ex-wife was cohabitating with another person, and, therefore, modified the ex-husband’s alimony obligation. Pursuant to the parties’ separation agreement, the husband was obligated to pay to the wife alimony in the amount of $1,300 per month for a period of eight years. The parties agreed that the amount of said alimony could later be modified, however, the duration could not unless the plaintiff remarried. Approximately six and one-half years following the parties’ divorce, the ex-husband filed a motion to modify, claiming that the parties’ financial circumstances had changed substantially and also that the ex-wife was cohabitating with another person as defined in Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-86(b).

In reaching its decision, the Court explained that pursuant to General Statutes §46b-86(b), alimony may be modified or terminated upon a showing that the party receiving the periodic alimony is living with another person causing a change of financial circumstances. Where a Court finds that a party is living with another individual, it may modify, reduce, suspend or terminate the payment of alimony if there is a corresponding change in financial circumstances. In other words, in cases involving the cohabitation statute, the threshold predicate for the modification of alimony is lowered to situations where the court finds cohabitation and a change in circumstances so as to alter the needs of the party. Thus, the higher burden required by §46b-86(a), requiring a “substantial change” in circumstances is lowered when there is cohabitation. Once the Court finds both cohabitation and a change in the financial needs of the party receiving alimony, it must then apply the factors enumerated in Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-82 to determine the appropriate amount of support, if any. Those criteria include the needs and financial resources of each party as well as the causes for the dissolution, the age, health, station, occupation, employability and amount and source of income of the parties.

After hearing evidence, the Court found that the ex-wife was indeed living with another man, and, further, that her income and expenses changed due to significant support she was receiving from him in excess of the alimony she was receiving from her ex-husband. In fact, the ex-wife’s income was approximately 10% higher, not taking into consideration regular gifts and payment of living expenses provided by her new partner. Notably, the Court also pointed out that the ex-wife voluntarily moved to Florida to live with her new interest, leaving viable employment in the State of Connecticut and delaying access to her social security benefits. With respect to the ex-husband’s financial circumstances, the Court found that his income was lower than at the time of dissolution, his assets had been depleted and his weekly payments substantially exceeded his income. Based on those findings, the Court modified the wife’s alimony to $1.00 per year until the husband’s obligation terminated under the terms of the original judgment of dissolution or was otherwise subsequently modified by order of the court.

Should you have any questions regarding matrimonial matters, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Michael D. DeMeola, Esq. He can be reached by telephone in the firm’s Westport office at (203) 221-3100 or by e-mail at mdemeola@mayalaw.com.
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Our family law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best divorce attorneys and family attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut divorce or New York divorce today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a divorce law attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free divorce consultation as well as free consultation on all other familial matters. Divorce in CT and divorce in NYC is difficult, but education is power. Call our family law office in CT today.

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