Employment Litigation


Contractual or “at will” employee:

One of the most litigated areas involves the rights of employers/employees when there is no written employment contract defining and proscribing the rights of the parties. Without such agreement, the employment is considered to be “at will” and can be terminated at any time, with or without good cause, often leaving the terminated employee without redress. In New York, oral employment contracts that extend beyond a year are not enforceable, because of the Statute of Frauds. However, employment contracts can be established by a composite of documents and need not be found in a traditional, single document, written employment agreement.

Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace:

          While an “at will” employee can be discharged at any time without reason, if the basis for termination is discriminatory, the employee has the right to seek his/her former position back or to obtain monetary damages. Redress for discrimination in the work place is available through federal, New York State and New York City statutes. Employment cannot be terminated due to race, religion, creed, age, or sex. Sexual harassment in the workplace is actionable. Often the form of discrimination, although pervasive, is subtle, but an experienced attorney will be able to demonstrate its existence.

The Whistle Blower:

          New York , like many other states, has a “Whistle blower” statute. This law prohibits the employer taking any “retaliatory personnel action” (firing, suspension, demotion or other adverse employment action) against any employee who discloses to a public body or any supervisor any violation of law by the employer if the violation creates a danger to public health or safety, or if the employee refuses to participate in such illegal policy. The employer who violates the statute is not only subject to reinstating the employee, and compensating for lost wages, but also is exposed to reimbursing the employee’s attorney’s fees.

Qui Tam Actions:

          The federal government, in an effort to prevent its being a victim of fraud, enacted the False Claims Act, which enables an individual to prosecute a fraud claim on behalf of the United States government if, after bringing the matter to the government’s attention, the federal government elects not to prosecute the matter itself. The statute provides an economic incentive for bringing such claim, i.e. a percentage participation in the recovery, with a higher percentage available if the government elects not to prosecute the claim itself and instead permits the individual to pursue the claim on its behalf. Generally employees, or former employees, who, by reason of their positions, are privy to the inner workings of the business against which the claims brought, bring qui tam actions.

Hoffman, Polland & Furman, PLLC.
220 East 42nd Street
New York, New York 10017
Phone: 212-338-0700
Fax: 212-338-0093