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New York Court Discusses Proving An Employer-Employee Relationship Exists

August 20, 2020

It goes without saying that for a person to maintain an employment discrimination claim, he or she must demonstrate the existence of an employment relationship. While typically, it is abundantly clear whether a person works for an entity, in some instances, a defendant may dispute whether it employs an individual. This was shown in a recent New York case of employment discrimination in which a corporate entity denied that it employed the plaintiff, who worked at a franchise of the entity. If you were discriminated against at work, you might be able to seek damages from your employer and should consult a skillful New York employment discrimination attorney to discuss the potential merits of your claim.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff worked at a franchise of a fast-food chain that was owned by the defendant franchisee pursuant to an agreement with the defendant corporation. The plaintiff learned from a coworker that the defendant franchisee’s manager stated that he would not have hired the plaintiff if he knew she was pregnant. He then made the same statement to the plaintiff and sent the plaintiff a text message later that day, stating that she was fired because she was pregnant. The plaintiff filed employment discrimination against the defendants, alleging she was discriminated against based on her gender and pregnancy. The defendant corporation filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that it was not the plaintiff’s employer or a joint employer.

Demonstrating an Employer-Employee Relationship

Under the joint employer doctrine, when a person is employed by one entity, liability can be imposed on a second entity based on a relationship between the two companies. Parties will be considered joint employers if they are legally separate parties that jointly handle specific aspects of their employer-employee relationship. In determining whether a joint employer relationship exists, a court will look at whether a party exercised immediate control over another party’s employees. In the subject case, the court found that it could not state that, as a matter of law, there was no joint employer relationship.

Further, in response to the defendant corporation’s argument that it was not an employer of the plaintiff, the court explained that a court would assess whether a party acted indirectly or directly on behalf of the employer. In other words, it will examine the economic realities of their relationship to see if an employment relationship is present. Here, the court found that the plaintiff had alleged sufficient facts to show that she was employed by the defendant corporation. Thus, the court denied the defendant’s motion.

Meet With a Seasoned Employment Attorney

If your employer treated you adversely because of your gender or pregnancy, it might constitute discrimination, and you should meet with an attorney to assess your possible claims. The seasoned New York employment discrimination attorneys of Gerstman Schwartz LLP are well-versed in what it takes to prove an employer should be held liable for treating an employee unfairly, and we will work hard to help you seek any compensation you may be owed. We can be reached at our Manhattan office at (212) 227-7070, or at our Garden City office at (516) 880-8170. You can also contact us through our online form to schedule a meeting.

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