Posts tagged with "#EmploymentLaw"

Court Denies Employee’s Motion for Summary Judgment Because Parties Dispute Material Facts of the Case

Webster Financial Corporation v. Levine, 2009 Conn. Super. LEXIS 841
Case Background

Mr. Gerald Levine sold his shares of LLIA, Inc., a financial and insurance firm, to Webster Financial Corporation in February 2000 along with other shareholders of the company.  He executed a Stock Purchase Agreement, Employment Agreement, and a Non-Solicitation Agreement with Webster Financial in connection with the transaction.  The agreements contained a series of restrictive covenants that prohibited Mr. Levine for two years following termination from soliciting or accepting any brokerage business from entities that were LLIA or Webster clients while he was an employee with the company.

He worked as a Webster Financial employee until June 2007 when he voluntarily terminated his employment and began to work at Beecher Carlson Insurance Services, LLC, a firm providing similar services.  Webster Financial sued Mr. Levine and requested that the court enforce the provisions of the restrictive covenants.  Mr. Levine submitted a motion for summary judgment and this request is the focal point of the court’s analysis and decision.

Trial Process

The court denied Mr. Levine’s motion for summary judgment, holding that the “issues raised by the defendant [Levine] concerning the breadth and enforceability of the NSA should await trial and should not be resolved through summary judgment.” The judge felt that summary judgment was inappropriate for this case because the parties’ claims raised “genuine issues of disputed fact not amenable to summary disposition.”  Mr. Levine presented several arguments as to why the agreements were unenforceable and that Webster Financial’s claim lacked merit but the court rejected them as basis for granting summary judgment.

Mr. Levine argued that the restrictive covenants lacked proper consideration and that the provisions of the covenants were unreasonable in scope.  He asserted that Webster Financial procured the covenants solely by the grant of stock and this represented inadequate consideration to make the agreements binding upon the parties.

Court Ruling

The court however identified several sources of consideration for the covenants such that Mr. Levine gave the covenants in exchange for the sale of LLIA, employment with Webster Financial, and the issuance of shares of stock.  The court also refuted Mr. Levine’s contention that the provisions were unreasonable in scope because there was no expressed geographical limitation.  The court concluded that the absence of an expressed limited area did not render the restriction unreasonable because the language of the agreement itself sufficiently restricted its application of the employment prohibitions.

Mr. Levine failed to meet the burden of proof necessary to show that the case did not have disputed material facts and that he was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law, causing the court to deny his motion for summary judgment.

The lawyers at Maya Murphy, P.C., are experienced and knowledgeable employment and corporate law practitioners and assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and elsewhere in Fairfield County.  If you have any questions relating to your non-compete agreement or would like to discuss any element of your employment agreement, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at

What Does It Mean if My Employee is Subject to Income Withholding in Connecticut?

Child support is often collected through income withholding orders which means it is paid by the non-custodial parent’s employer out of the parent’s wages.  Income withholding can include withholding wages or paychecks, commissions, bonuses, unemployment compensation, worker’s compensation insurance, or retirement benefits.  If an employer receives an income withholding order, the employer must withhold money as required by the court order.  The employer is responsible for sending payments within seven days of withholding the money from the employee’s wages or earnings, and to continue to withhold and send payments until they are notified by the court that the order is suspended or changed.

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

Two Housekeepers at Hotel Accuse Supervisors

Two Housekeepers at Hotel Accuse Supervisors and Colleagues of Sexual Harassment.

For months, in the hallways and suites of a hotel in midtown Manhattan, two housekeepers said they were groped and sexually harassed by their superiors. When they complained to the general manager regarding this harassment, nothing was done, they said, and after they took their story to a top hotel executive, they were dismissed.

The housekeepers, Kathy Saigado, 29, and Marina Abdullajeva, 28, who were paid $5 for each room they cleaned, said that two supervisors and two colleagues at the Club Quarters Hotel, at 40 West 45th Street, routinely grabbed their breasts and propositioned them. They also said the executive housekeeper demanded that they bow their heads when speaking to him.

“I felt like my rights as a human being were raped,” said Ms. Salgado, who emigrated from Ecuador. “When I complained to the general manager of the hotel, he just started laughing.”

The Club Quarters hotel caters almost entirely to business executives. Guests must be employees of member corporations. Room rates range from $95 to $285 a night.

Response to the Claims

After a five-month investigation, the New York State Division of Human Rights has found sufficient evidence to support the women’s claims of sexual harassment. A state investigator also found evidence that the women were dismissed in retaliation for complaining about the behavior of Eliot Manning, a supervisor; Hasan Kaseb, the head of housekeeping; Talat Pervez, a mechanic, and Maria Lahlu, another housekeeper. All four have denied the allegations.

Jon D. Horowitz, a lawyer for Midtown South Associates, one of several companies that have an interest in the hotel, said yesterday that the women were not harassed and that they only filed complaints after being dismissed in March 1994.

“There is no basis for the claims,” he said. “Midtown South Associates has a written sexual harassment policy, which it strictly enforces.”

Next Steps for the Complainants

The women were dismissed “for cause,” including “poor work quality and inability to work with others,” hotel executives told investigators.

Ms. Abdullejeva, who was twice named “Housekeeper of the Month” during 17 months at the hotel, responded, “Those are lies.”

“I’m scared to start all over again,” said Ms. Abdullajeva, who emigrated from Latvia. “I don’t want to work anymore at a hotel.”

The Office of Sexual Harassment Issues, a unit of the State Human Rights Division, has handled 859 case so far this year. In 40 percent of the cases, investigators have sided with the complainants.

“I’ve never worked on a sexual harassment case where the facts were as egregious as these,” said Joseph Maya, a lawyer who represents the former housekeepers and was a lawyer at the city’s Commission on Human Rights for five years.

Mr. Maya said each woman was seeking $2 million in damages.

Additional Accusations

In a separate action in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Mr. Maya filed a lawsuit on behalf of another former housekeeper, Monica Quintana, against the hotel and the four employees, also charging sexual harassment.

Ms. Salgado said the sexual harassment began almost immediately after she was hired by the hotel in January 1994. “They would grab me in the hallway,” she said. “And they made comments.”

She said Mr. Pervez made sexually-laced comments and jokes to her. Several times, she said, while she sat in the employee cafeteria, he intentionally brushed his crotch against the back of her neck as he passed.

She said she complained to the executive housekeeper, Mr. Kaseb. In response, she said, he locked his office door, grabbed her from behind and told her, he was “tired of these complaints.”

Ms. Salgado and Ms. Abdullajeva both said they complained to the hotel manager, Frank Nicholas. But, Ms. Salgado said, Mr. Nicholas excused Mr. Kaseb’s behavior by saying, “This is the way they treat women in Iran.”

Shortly before they were dismissed, Ms. Salgado and Ms. Abdullajeva said they complained to Al Van Ness, a top hotel executive. “He denies having heard any complaint,” said Mr. Horowitz, the hotel lawyer.

The Aftermath

In finding probable cause, a state investigator said two former employees corroborated the two women’s’ allegations. The investigator also noted that the hotel’s 48-page employee handbook, which includes a sexual harassment policy, is distributed to management but is not given to other employees.

Ms. Salgado and Ms. Abdullajeva said they have searched for housekeeper jobs since they were dismissed but have had no luck. “The problem is references,” Ms. Salgado said. “I have to tell them I worked in a hotel and I was sexually harassed. They feel sorry for me, but who wants to hire somebody who has been mentally destroyed?”

The New York Times Metro Section
By Don Van Natta Jr.

Court Finds that FINRA Arbitrators Did Not Exceed Their Authority

Augusto H. Andrade, Jr., and Maria A. Andrade v. Michael Ewanouski and Wachovia Securities, LLC. 962 N.E.2d 245 (Mass. App. Ct. 2012)

In a case before the Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Augusto and Maria Andrade (“the Andrades”) appealed a trial court judgment confirming a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) arbitration award in favor of Michael Ewanouski (“Ewanouski”) and Wachovia Securities, LLC (“Wachovia”).  The appellate court affirmed the lower court ruling.

The Case

In 2000, the Andrades opened an investment account with Ewanouski, who was a registered representative and branch manager at a company that was later acquired by Wachovia.  The Andrades’ client profile contained several critical errors, including the type of investment sought.  Therefore, their funds were placed in investments with an above average degree of risk, performed poorly and lost money.

In 2007, the Andrades filed a Statement of Claims with FINRA against both Ewanouski and Wachovia.  During the arbitration, the arbitration panel found that many of the  claims were barred because of  lack of jurisdiction. In accordance with FINRA Rule 12206(a), claims are ineligible for FINRA arbitration if six years have elapsed from the occurrence or event that gave rise to the claim.  Therefore, the arbitration panel determined that claims arising from activities prior to June 1, 2001 were ineligible for arbitration.  The FINRA arbitration panel rendered its decision in April 2010.  The Andrades prevailed on two claims, and the remaining claims were dismissed by the arbitration panel.

The Appeal

In their appeal, the Andrades stated that the trial judge erred in failing to strike the arbitrators’ finding that certain dismissed claims were ineligible for arbitration or, in the alternative, that the trial judge erred in not vacating the arbitration award.  The Andrades grounded their appeal on the basis that the arbitration panel recorded its findings on matters ineligible for arbitration and, therefore, exceeded its authority in its interpretation of the FINRA rules governing time limits for the submission of claims and for the dismissal of claims. The Andrades also allege in their appeal that they should be permitted to pursue the claims that are ineligible for arbitration in court.

Both the Massachusetts General Laws and the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) provide very narrow statutory grounds for judicial review of arbitration awards. Compare Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 251, §§ 12(a) with 9 U.S.C. § 10(a).  The Andrades made no claims that the arbitration decision was tainted by fraud or other  procedural irregularity, which could potentially provide grounds for vacatur  under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 251, §§ 12(a)(1), 12(a)(4)-(5).  Whether an arbitration panel exceeded its authority first depends on what matters were properly before him for consideration.  Local 589, Amalgamated Transit Union v. Massachusetts Bay Transp. Authy., 392 Mass. 407, 412 (1984).

The Arbitration Award

The appellate court determined that, by bringing ineligible claims before the arbitration panel, the Andrades gave the arbitration panel the power to discuss their dismissal of those matters.  Pursuant to FINRA Rule 12206(a), the arbitration panel “will resolve any questions regarding the eligibility of a claim under this rule.”  Additionally, FINRA Rule 12904(e) requires the arbitration award to contain “a statement of issues resolved.”  The arbitration panel’s statements in the arbitration award were in direct response to the Andrades’ argument that the statute of limitations should be tolled on their claims.

The arbitration award stated that fraudulent activity or bad faith is required for tolling to apply, and that the panel found that Ewanouski had not engaged in either conduct.  The arbitration award also contained its conclusions that tolling did not apply and that the Andrades’ claims based on events or occurrences prior to June 1, 2001 were ineligible for FINRA arbitration.  The appellate court determined that the arbitrators did not exceed the scope of their authority by including this explanation in the arbitration award.   Therefore, the trial judge appropriately denied the Andrades’ claims.

Modifying an Arbitration Award

The Massachusetts Uniform Arbitration Act provides limited exceptions under which a court may modify or correct an arbitration award. Mass. Gen. Laws. Ch. 251 § 13(a)(2).  A court may only modify or correct an award if “the arbitrators have awarded upon a matter not submitted to them and the award may be corrected without affecting the merits of the decision upon the issues submitted.”  This provision is substantially similar to the FAA, 9 U.S.C. § 11(b).  The appellate court determined that this exception was not applicable in the instant case because the contested matter was properly before the arbitrators.

Although the appellate court affirmed the lower court decision to confirm the FINRA arbitration award in favor of Ewanouski and Wachovia, its opinion reiterated the Andrades’ existing right to file suit in court on the claims that the arbitration panel clearly stated were ineligible for arbitration.  FINRA Rule 12206(b) specifically states that dismissal of claims from FINRA arbitration “does not prohibit a party from pursuing the claim in court.”

Should you have any questions relating to FINRA, arbitration or employment issues, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County, Connecticut at 203-221-3100 or at