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Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. Client Receives “Probable Cause” Ruling Determined after Failing to Pay Commissions Owed and Committing Unlawful Racial Discrimination

Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. succeeded in obtaining, for its client in a civil rights proceeding, a finding of probable cause that the client’s former employers, a high-end residential real estate brokerage company and two related companies, discriminated against the client in violation of New York state employment discrimination law.

Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. representing a real estate agent who formerly worked for a real estate company which specializes in the sale of properties for amounts greater than $10 million in the Hamptons, New York City, and south Florida. While employed by the Brokerage and two related companies from 2017 to 2022, our client, who is African American, was subjected to both a hostile work environment and discriminatory employment practices.

The hostile work environment included being addressed by racial epithets by his superiors, including two of the founding members of the Brokerage, as well as a lower-ranking coworker. Our client was also addressed unflatteringly as “Jafar,” the brown-skinned, manipulative villain in the “Aladdin” films, by the owners and other employees. In addition, owner verbally berated in other ways. Ultimately, the hostile work environment became too difficult for Mr. Willis to cope with, forcing his resignation.

The discriminatory employment practices included not permitting our client to show properties to prospective purchasers as other salespersons were permitted to do; a less experienced and effective white coworker attempting to steal our client’s clients;  His demotion from a vice presidential position with a Bespoke-related company, and his replacement by that less experienced and effective white coworker; Brokerage’s systematic nonpayment of commissions that our client was owed; and our client’s constructive discharge.

Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. filed a complaint on Mr. Willis’s behalf, and against the Brokerage and it owners personally,  with the New York State Division of Human Rights (“NYSDHR”), New York State’s administrative agency that handles complaints of employment discrimination under the New York State Human Rights Law. NYSDHR investigated the claims.

The Brokerage and its owners (collectively, the “Respondents”) submitted a position statement to the NYSDHR, in which they argued, among other things, that Mr. Willis had not been discriminated against, and claimed that had initiated the use of racial epithets against African Americans, and professed friendship with the owners. Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. submitted a rebuttal to this position statement, in which the firm explained, among other things, that the Owner’s had initiated the use of racial epithets against African Americans, including our client, and that our client had been forced to acquiesce in order to remain employed and to receive unpaid commissions that Brokerage owed him.

Our client in a telephone interview with the NYSDHR’s investigator in which the investigator spoke with him to clarify further the facts of the case.

After this telephone interview, the NYSDHR issued a ruling finding that there was probable cause to believe that the Respondents had engaged in unlawful discriminatory practices against our client.

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