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NYC Litigation Blog

Monday, May 11, 2015

In Workplace Harassment Lawsuit, Employee Sues Over Mockery of His Catholicism

Can an employee sue an employer for discrimination or harassment for denigrating his religion and ethnic background?

Workplace harassment takes many forms.  Workers are sometimes mistreated or discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or ethnic or racial background.  In the case of victim Joseph Modica, the reason involved religion.

His employer, Steven Rosen, allegedly ridiculed him relentlessly for his Catholic beliefs.  Rosen is a former employee of Jordan Belfort, the "Wolf of Wall Street" depicted in a Martin Scorcese film.

The 42-page lawsuit filed in a Manhattan court demands $5 million in damages for the endless abuse Rosen heaped upon Modica for his religious views, as well as his Italian-American heritage.

Rosen allegedly asked Modica if he really believed Jesus was born to a virgin, suggesting that if he did believe it, he was "a moron.”  Rosen also mocked the resurrection as scientifically impossible.  He asked Modica not to wear ashes on his forehead at work on Ash Wednesday.  Modica say Rosen frequently referred to him using ethnic and racial slurs.

The abuse increased after Modica went to the emergency room with a possible heart attack.  Rosen made insensitive comments to Modica about his lifestyle and upbringing.  Holidays were an especially difficult time, as Modica was dragged into conversations in which he was baited and forced to defend his religion.  Some of Rosen's slurs allegedly also impugned Modica's integrity, unfairly implying he was a crook.

According to the lawsuit, the abusive workplace conditions spanned a four-year period, from the beginning of 2010 to mid-2014.

If you have been the victim of behavior you feel is unacceptable - insults, harassment, denigration of your race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability - you may be able to sue your employer for damages. Thomas M. Lancia is an experienced trial lawyer who has handled all types of labor and employment law claims and other litigation.  He is admitted to practice in both New York and New Jersey.  For an evaluation of your claim, contact the law firm of Thomas M. Lancia PLLC today at (212)964-3157.


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