If I have a friend who was seeing the manager at the restaurant she works but he broke up with her and fired her, does she have any legal options here?

Asked on August 10, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, she may have grounds for a lawsuit for illegal sexual discrimination or harassment: it is against the law to fire someone because they dated, then broke up with, a supervisor or boss. Doing so is considered sexual harassment.

It is possible that there are valid grounds for the firing, such as if she was chronically absent or late, had documented poor performance, would not follow instructions, etc., and, if she was fired for such valid, non-sexual or -relationship based reasons, there would be no liability; but based on what you write, your friend could certainly make out a "prima facie" claim, or a claim that seems valid on its face, and pursue legal action. Her options are to hire an employment law attorney to bring a lawsuit on her behalf; or to contact the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or state federal/civil rights agency to file a complaint. Filing a complaint with the government does not cost any money; retaining an attorney obviously would cost (though some lawyers might take the case on contingency, where they would only be paid if your friend wins), but would tend to get faster action than going through the government. 

If your friend can prove illegal discrimination or harassment, she could potentially recover compensation equal to several months wages.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, she may have grounds for a lawsuit for illegal sexual discrimination or harassment: it is against the law to fire someone because they dated, then broke up with, a supervisor or boss. Doing so is considered sexual harassment.

It is possible that there are valid grounds for the firing, such as if she was chronically absent or late, had documented poor performance, would not follow instructions, etc., and, if she was fired for such valid, non-sexual or -relationship based reasons, there would be no liability; but based on what you write, your friend could certainly make out a "prima facie" claim, or a claim that seems valid on its face, and pursue legal action. Her options are to hire an employment law attorney to bring a lawsuit on her behalf; or to contact the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or state federal/civil rights agency to file a complaint. Filing a complaint with the government does not cost any money; retaining an attorney obviously would cost (though some lawyers might take the case on contingency, where they would only be paid if your friend wins), but would tend to get faster action than going through the government. 

If your friend can prove illegal discrimination or harassment, she could potentially recover compensation equal to several months wages.


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