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CLE with Justice Levine covers labor law and domestic workers

May 15, 2018 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Brooklyn Bar Association hosted Justice Katherine Levine and a team of attorneys for a CLE on labor law for domestic workers. Pictured from left: Brigette Renaud, Hon. Katherine A. Levine, Antonia Kousoulas, Joan Lenihan, Rebecca Nathanson and Rachel Demarest Gold. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese
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The Brooklyn Bar Association hosted a continuing legal education seminar on Monday with Justice Katherine A. Levine, of the Kings County Supreme Court, during which she and a group of attorneys discussed labor law and domestic workers.

“I am sitting in the city part of Kings County Supreme and I’m honored to be sitting there because I get a lot of labor law cases,” said Levine, who worked in Brooklyn Civil Court for nine years before her election in 2016 to the Supreme Court. “That’s good for me because that’s the area that I was born and bred with.”

The seminar was titled “Labor Law Protections for Low Wage and Domestic Workers: Do They Still Exist?” In addition to Levine, it also featured Rachel Demarest Gold, Antonia Kousoulas, Brigette Renaud, Joan Lenihan and Rebecca Nathanson.

“We live in a tumultuous time where things appear turned over their head as if they were in Alice in Wonderland,” Levine said. “The election of President Trump has caused vast changes to the way labor law and employment law have been interpreted.

“We’re focused today on the low wage worker — the domestic aide, the home health aide, the chauffeur, the black car driver,” Levine continued. “These workers are likely to fall within the confluence of changes in immigration and labor law because many of these workers in the low wage area are either immigrants, often illegal, or hold a green card or both.” 

The 2 1/2-hour seminar offered each woman a chance to discuss their topic and answer questions. 

After Levine began the event with a discussion on the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 and some cases that came before her that concerned it. She then turned it over to Kousoulas for a discussion on the Fair Labor Standards Act and overtime pay. Renaud then took over to explain how the Affordable Care Act affects domestic workers.

“There was a lot of movement to repeal the [Affordable Care Act] — that did not happen, but it has changed,” Renaud said. “The individual mandate has been repealed so starting Jan. 1, 2019, individuals will no longer be penalized for not having insurance. This creates a big mess for employers because the IRS is ready to collect quite high penalties for employers who are not compliant.”

After a short break, Demarest Gold, Lenihan and Nathanson wrapped up the lecture. Demarest Gold, a partner at Abrams Fensterman, was the only one to cover the topic from the perspective of an employer; Lenihan covered the city’s Human Rights Law and how it protects workers, and Nathanson covered everything the NYS Department of Labor does to protect the workers, including her work on retaliation cases. 

The Brooklyn Bar Association’s next continuing legal education seminar will feature Paul K. Isaac on the topic of Medicare, Medicaid and ERISA liens. The event will be co-sponsored by the NYS Academy of Trial Lawyers and will take place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 24.

On Wednesday, May 30, Ira Saltzman will lead a panel on the do’s and don’ts of guardianship cases. Ira Miller, Julie Stoil-Fernandez and Anthony J. Lamberti will sit on the panel.


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