Labor & Employment partner and chair Laurent Drogin authored a Law360 article titled, "How A Tweet With No Words Could Impact NY Labor Law.” The article explores the implications of the firing of former New York Post sportswriter Bart Hubbuch, who sued his former employer and alleged that his termination was due to a tweet in which he compared President Donald Trump’s inauguration to tragic dates in American history.
In his complaint, Hubbuch unearthed infrequently used Section 201-d of the New York Labor Law, which grew out of efforts by tobacco lobbyists to prevent employers from discriminating against employees who smoked. The labor law protects employees from discipline (including discharge) based on their “recreational activities” outside of the workplace. Laurent notes that few New York employers are likely aware that such a law even exists and it remains to be seen whether media attention from the Hubbuch case will motivate attorneys who represent employees to add the law to their toolbox.
Laurent notes that if nothing else, the threat of a lawsuit under the labor law — arguably now a form of employment discrimination — may complicate termination decisions and give aggrieved employees greater leverage in negotiating severance packages. The ripple effects of Hubbuch’s lawsuit remain to be seen.
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