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Client Alleges Sexual Discrimination Against Phoenix Satellite Television
On October 9, 2013
After interning at Phoenix for two weeks, a Bernabei & Wachtel client was subjected to sexual harassment by her boss Zhengzhu Liu. After a business dinner with other coworkers, Mr. Liu asked her to come back to his hotel to talk about full-time employment. Instead he lured her to his hotel room where he aggressively made unwanted advances. She quickly left and her internship ended soon thereafter.
Several months later she contacted Mr. Liu about a position after graduating from her Master’s program. In response, Mr. Liu invited her to a weekend in Atlantic City “to discuss job opportunities”.
The New York District Court has denied a motion to dismiss her claims for retaliation – one under the New York City Human Rights law, the other under the New York State Human Rights Law. She also brought two claims for “quid pro quo” sex discrimination, again under the City Law and the State Law.
Our client is one of a group of nine former or current employees of Phoenix Satellite Television who are bringing sexual harassment or retaliation claims against Phoenix. The former head of US Operations of Phoenix sexually harassed or molested five of the plaintiffs and many other women who applied for or worked at Phoenix over a 10 year period. Phoenix also terminated or retaliated against four male employees who supported the female employees in their discrimination claims. Five employees have brought suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and three others will be bringing suit shortly.
This decision generated significant outrage over the exclusion of interns from protection under these laws, particularly given the large number of interns in New York city. Propublica, Politicker, and the Daily News all covered this decision and the legislative proposals to amend these laws to make clear that interns are covered.