Qusair Mohamedbhai’s law firm Rathod Mohamedbhai has been in the spotlight for civil rights cases and is also one of the largest firms in Colorado that handles plaintiff’s side employment cases. With work environments completely changed in 2020, so too have employment cases.
LAW WEEK: What do you see as the most significant issues of the past year?
MOHAMEDBHAI: In terms of plaintiffs’ employment cases, setting aside the COVID related issues, I get the sense that maybe unemployment and underemployment is much higher than we’re being told. And for folks who are employed, and the ones who are working from home, we’re discovering that the traditional discrimination categories — sexual harassment racial discrimination, age discrimination, disability-based discrimination and retaliation and harassment — those types of claims in the home-working environment have plummeted. I’ve never seen this little action of discrimination or Title VII or the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act cases.
Particularly, if we just talk about sexual harassment which takes a lot of forms and there are a lot of motivations for why it occurs. Generally, with sexual harassment it involves some kind of face-to-face interaction, and that’s just not happening. People are not interacting face to face or at work events, happy hours, trips, those types of things, and there is just very little actionable sexual harassment and discrimination that we’re seeing. So, we, as a plaintiff’s firm, are finding actionable cases to be much less, resulting in far fewer charges being filed at the EEOC or the CCRD, which will certainly result in less lawsuits being filed.
I believe that many employment firms are still working on cases that were pre-pandemic, and so while there are a lot of questions surrounding COVID and issues related to working from home, there’s just been very few of those types of things. And it’s not that sexual harassment has disappeared, it’s just part of the nature of how people are separated and it’s not being reported as much.
And it’s a yin and yang relationship for the legal industry. If plaintiff’s side firms like ours ours are unable to bring actionable claims, then the defense side isn’t doing litigation either. It’s good for the community that it seems to be happening less, but, certainly for law firms who specialize in these types of practice areas, it’s not good, and law firms are going to have to look into other practices.
This complete article appears in the Dec. 21 issue of Law Week Colorado. To read other articles from that issue, order a copy online. Subscribers can request a digital PDF of the issue. https://www.zp-pdl.com