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Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against NBA Based on Denial of Work Schedule Flexibility

A former National Basketball Association executive from New Jersey recently filed a gender discrimination lawsuit in New York federal court claiming three million dollars in damages. The lawsuit alleges that the NBA forced the former senior account executive out of the league by altering her work schedule.

According to the complaint filed by the former employee of the NBA, the league created a hostile work environment for mothers with childcare responsibilities. Brynn Cohn of Hoboken, N.J. worked for the NBA for 10 years prior to being forced to leave her job.

Her claim of gender-based discrimination is due to a change in company policy during the time she was out on maternity leave. Cohn’s complaint indicates that the company changed its policy when she was off work so that Cohn was required to work late. Her lawsuit alleges that there was no need for the change that required the senior account manager managing print projects to work after hours.

Because the change in work scheduling would require Cohn to incur thousands of dollars in additional childcare expenses, she was forced to quit her job. Cohn’s lawsuit also alleged that two other women with small children and childcare responsibilities were forced to quit.

Rationale for imposing liability for denying alternate work schedules

While no federal or New Jersey employment law specifically requires an employer to provide a flexible work schedule, this is an increasingly significant issue. There are a number of situations where denying this type of flexibility in one’s work schedule might provide a basis for legal remedies, including:

  • Hostile Work Environment Example: A supervisor engages in a pattern of harassment that is severe and pervasive based on the employee’s gender.
  • Disparate Treatment Example: The employer denies flexible scheduling to female employees with childcare responsibilities but grants this right to male employees.
  • Improper Stereotyping Example: An employee with positive work history and evaluations is suddenly treated differently because she becomes a mother.  The employer may not discriminate based on the assumption that an employee will not be able to juggle the responsibilities of parenting and work duties.
  • Retaliation Examples: The decision to deny flexible scheduling is retaliation for asserting a race discrimination claim, exercising whistle-blower rights or similar forms of improper retaliation.

These are just a few examples of legal theories that may form a basis for employment discrimination claims, which involve the failure to provide a flexible work schedule.

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Neil H. Deutsch
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About Neil H. Deutsch has been practicing law for over 35 years and is known as a skilled negotiator in employment and discrimination law. He believes in a bottom-line approach of risk analysis and cost effectiveness for his clients. "Case evaluation is something we take seriously," says Mr. Deutsch who seeks top net dollar for…

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About Bruce L. Atkins is regarded as one of New Jersey’s premier practitioners of employment and civil litigation. He has been selected to the New Jersey Super Lawyers prestigious list every year since 2005.  This honor, bestowed upon a recipient by the votes of his peers, is a powerful nod to the skill Mr. Atkins…

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About Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in March of 2015.  He primarily represents individuals in employment litigations such as discrimination, retaliation, and whistle blowing matters.  He has extensive experience in all phases of the litigation process. Adam has obtained significant results for some of his clients, including a $525,000 jury verdict…

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About Diane Englander Peyser joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in September 2018 where she represents employees in wrongful termination, retaliation, harassment, and discrimination matters. Prior to joining Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C., Diane represented clients in all aspects of employment law on behalf of employees involving unemployment appeals, claims of sexual harassment, LGBT discrimination,…

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About Debra M. McGarvey joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in December 2019. She has extensive experience defending employees and employers in state and federal court in employment litigation matters. She has represented clients on various issues arising out of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA),…

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