Friday, January 3, 2020
We won a case in 2017, at the New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). We argued that Staten Island teacher Francesco Portelos was berated with disciplinary letters, frivolous investigations, and negative observations on the heels of becoming UFT delegate and running for UFT chapter leader. The New York City Department of Education received a decision against them stating they needed to adhere to and post the following notice everywhere UFT members worked. They did not.
An Albany Supreme Court judge recently decided that the NYCDOE must follow PERB Judge Blassman's decision and post the notice. This is a win for all union employees who dare enforce their contract amidst intimidation and retaliation.
Thursday, September 6, 2018
Our firm takes many cases to PERB and we argue that the employer is retaliating against the employee due to their union activity.
A win at PERB, decided by an Administrative Law Judge, could bring about different remedies, such as removal of disciplinary letters, overturning negative ratings, awarding monetary compensation and more.
We have had successes at PERB and recently won a case for our client where her 3020-a fine was reversed, among other things. See below.
Contact attorney Bryan D. Glass, Esq. and Jordan F. Harlow, Esq. at ghnylaw.com if you feel you are being targeted for your union activity by a public employer like the New York City Department of Education.
Sunday, July 1, 2018
Here is coverage in The Chief Newspaper by reporter Crystal Lewis.
Thursday, June 7, 2018
Media Coverage of our Age Discrimination Complaint: Superintendent targeted veteran teachers over age
Superintendent targeted veteran teachers over age: suit
By Susan Edelman
June 2, 2018 | 10:37pm | Updated
Rose Marie Mills
An adult-education superintendent who already has cost the city $362,000 in a disability-discrimination settlement now faces accusations she targeted 13 teachers because of their age.
Rose-Marie Mills, who heads the city’s Office of Adult and Continuing Education, is waging a campaign to get rid of veteran, high-performing educators in their 50s, 60s and 70s, the teachers say.
“I want blood,” Mills allegedly told a former principal, the teachers’ lawyer, Bryan Glass, wrote last month to the state Division of Human Rights, which is investigating.
If the division finds the complaint is valid, the teachers could sue the city, raising the prospect of more payouts.
The office serves about 41,000 students citywide, holding English classes for immigrants and others age 21 and up who want to obtain high-school equivalency degrees. Despite a $52 million budget, the office awarded only 150 diplomas last school year, The Post has reported.
Last June, the city Department of Education settled for $362,000 a suit from an office director, whom Mills had terminated after he was diagnosed with a medical condition requiring brain surgery.
One former OACE assistant principal, Luckisha Amankwah, has filed a suit claiming Mills demoted her for refusing to give bad reviews to two teachers whom Amankwah believed didn’t deserve them.
Of the teachers who filed the complaints, three were fired and want their jobs back, along with back pay and other lost benefits. The others want unsatisfactory ratings overturned.
The complaints are filled with horror stories.
Lisa Miller, 58, who has a Master’s Degree in teaching English as a second language, said administrators cited her for extending a lesson and not telling students to “turn and talk to your partner.”
“They would ask me to do something one day, and fault me for not doing something else another day,” she states. “Despite evidence that I did the things they asked me to do, they denied that I did them.”
Roberta Pikser, 76, was let go and replaced with a younger ESL instructor.
“After nearly 20 years of commendable service, I suddenly became a bad teacher,” Pikser said. “Although I did what the principal asked of me, it was not deemed satisfactory. What had been praised in previous lessons was now condemned.”
Several students wrote letters praising Pikser. Fecumdo Ferrayra, from Argentina, said she helped him improve his English, write a résumé and prepare for job interviews.
Sarah Tyson, 63, said her supervisor berated and screamed at her.
“It was a shock to me. I was targeted and I didn’t know why,” she said, adding that she learned the same thing was happening to other older staffers.
The teachers hope new Chancellor Richard Carranza takes a hard look at Mills.
“She runs her team using fear and intimidation,” a former manager said. “There’s been a huge loss of institutional memory and expertise. It’s such a crime.”
Reached by phone, Mills told a reporter, “Have a wonderful day,” and hung up.
DOE spokesman Douglas Cohen said, “We take any discrimination allegations seriously, and are reviewing the complaints.”
Thursday, May 10, 2018
BREAKING from the Chief Leader Newspaper
13 Adult Ed. Teachers Sue, Claiming Age Bias Behind Negative Evaluations
By CRYSTAL LEWIS May 10,
ROSE-MARIE MILLS: Claim she’s engaged in purge.
‘THE ATMOSPHERE HAS CHANGED’: Sarah Tyson, who has worked for the Office of Adult and Continuing Education for 21 years as a Case Manager Counselor, said she was given an ‘unsatisfactory’ rating for attendance for taking time off to care for her sick mother after her request for leave was denied. ‘This program used to be a family,’ she lamented.
EASIER SAID THAN EXPLAINED: Roberta Pikser, who was fired last year after 16 years of teaching adult education, said Teachers were told they were given negative ratings for not differentiating among the needs of their students, but that they were given no guidance on how such distinctions were to be made.
Thirteen educators over the age of 50 who worked in the Department of Education’s troubled Office of Adult and Continuing Education have filed a suit claiming that they were targeted with poor ratings and discipline because of their age.
Former Adult Education Teachers have previously described low morale and a hostile climate under the leadership of Superintendent Rose-Marie Mills, who has run the program since 2012.
‘Suddenly I’m Bad’
“Up until Ms. Mills took over, I’d received satisfactory evaluations, but the year she took over I suddenly became a bad Teacher,” said Lisa Miller, 57, who taught at OACE for nine years before she was discontinued.
“It’s like they were on a mission to get rid of all of the senior people,” said Sarah Tyson, 63, who has worked in the program for 21 years as a Case Manager Counselor.
Last year, OACE served 28,700 students seeking to learn English, earn high-school equivalency diplomas or get career training. According to several staff members, at the end of the 2016-2017 school year, 28 of the program’s 140 Teachers received unsatisfactory ratings -- most of whom were older than 40, the age protected by employment-discrimination laws. That 20 percent of the educators received unsatisfactory ratings was a sharp contrast with the less-than one percent of Teachers who receive the lowest rating system-wide.
Several Teachers described receiving what they claimed were unfair “unsatisfactory” ratings after classroom observations. The Chief has previously reported that former Assistant Principal Luckisha Amankwah believed she was retaliated against after she didn’t give negative evaluations to two Teachers who had filed grievances.
Program Turned ‘Toxic’
Adam Weiss, 55, who retired last month and taught in the program for 27 years with an unblemished record prior to Ms. Mills’s tenure, claimed he started receiving multiple letters in his file during his last years on the job.
“One year, it was really egregious: I had two observations in the fall I got satisfactory ratings on, and then at the 11th hour in June I was observed and given an unsatisfactory,” he said, adding that he got the negative evaluation because of an incorrect lesson plan.
He said he appealed the rating, and got the unsatisfactory mark removed from his record after he won. He said that in recent years, the adult education program has become “toxic.”
“I was praised for my teaching and my students were fond of me: before, it wasn’t a cutthroat environment,” he said.
Ms. Tyson said she received an unsatisfactory rating last year for attendance after she left the state to take care of her sick mother; her request for time off was denied.
‘Used to Be a Family’
“This program used to be a family,” the union chapter leader said. “But now the atmosphere has changed.”
Educators who receive unsatisfactory marks are barred from teaching summer classes or substituting, negatively affecting their income.
For Ms. Miller, who currently teaches adult literacy at two other programs part-time, the result of multiple unsatisfactory ratings was her termination in 2016. She said she had to cash out her pension in order to survive.
She said that she received negative comments in her observations for things such as not telling students to discuss the lesson with each other and for not differentiating, or teaching to individual students' needs.
“There are things that make it hard to teach adults,” she said. Unlike schoolchildren, she noted, attendance isn’t mandatory for adult learners, whose skill level can vary from being unable to speak English to having advanced degrees. “I think Mills wants to follow the model of how K-12 Teachers teach. She doesn’t like the way we teach, but it’s a different game.”
A Word Without Clarity
Roberta Pikser, 76, who worked at the OACE for 16 years before being fired last year, said she believed differentiation was the reason many of the veteran Teachers were given bad ratings. “The big word was ‘differentiation,’” she said. “But no one ever said ‘it should be differentiated this way’ or ‘it should be that way,’” she added, noting that the union’s contract leaves implementing the instruction method up to a Teacher’s discretion.
The four veteran Teachers were among the 13 who joined forces last June after they realized how many senior Teachers received negative evaluations.
“We thought we’d have a better chance defending ourselves from this attack as a group,” Ms. Pikser said.
Ms. Tyson said that as a chapter leader, she felt it was her duty to speak out. “Most of the Teachers are afraid for their livelihood,” she said.
The educators are being represented by attorney Bryan Glass. "Discrimination and harassment have no place in our public schools,” he said. “We look forward to resolving this as expediently as possible for the sake of our clients and their students."
A spokesman for the Law Department said it would review and respond to the complaint.
A Conditional Wish
Ms. Pikser is hoping to have her job restored, for the unsatisfactory rating to be removed from her record and to receive back pay. “I want to be made whole,” she said.
Ms. Miller said she was seeking back pay and damages. “Maybe my job back, too,” she said. “But not if Mills is still in control.”
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Thursday, December 14, 2017
In addition to employment law, Glass Krakower, LLP was hired to assist a client with a battle with the City of New York Parking Violations Bureau.
One outcome was the issuance of 300 refund checks.
Monday, December 11, 2017
We will begin by circulating this questionnaire below.
The general approach would be to indicate how the New York City School system's budget formula, called Fair Student Funding, is de-incentivizing school administrators from hiring experienced educators.
Thursday, November 16, 2017
|US Court of Appeals in NYC|
Yesterday, our firm took a big case to the second highest court in the country. In short, teacher, parent and activist Francesco Portelos spoke up about what he saw was wrong in his neighborhood school. He was immediately retaliated against by his supervisors and higher up employees of the New york City Department of Education. We filed a lawsuit in June 2012 and ultimately had a federal trial in August 2016.
Saturday, June 3, 2017
"The evidence in this case does not support the charges, filed by the DOE. After weighing the evidence presented by the parties and accessing the credibility of the witnesses, including a videotape this Hearing Officer finds the Respondent not guilty of the conduct charged in Specifications 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6."
Thursday, March 2, 2017
"In the aftermath of this unique disaster, DOE provided teachers with no guidance or information as to the instruction of students displaced by Hurricane Sandy, other than that displaced students would not be penalized."