Sunu  is currently the Legal Director of the National Women’s Law Center. She oversees the Center’s litigation efforts, providing strategy and guidance to staff across NWLC to create better legal outcomes for women and girls at school, the workplace, and the health care sector. Immediately prior to joining the Center, Sunu served as the Deputy Director for the Civil Rights Division with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Sunu has also served as the General Counsel of the DC Office of Human Rights (OHR) and in that role oversaw agency decisions following investigations of discrimination in employment, education, housing and public accommodation matters.  Before that, from 1999-2014, Sunu served as a federal attorney with the U.S. Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), where she litigated class civil rights employment matters including based on sex, race, national origin, disability, age and religion based discrimination. Sunu was also a member of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAPPI) Regional Working Group and helped to organize conferences and civil rights panels alongside federal partners in New York City. Sunu earned her B.A. in Peace and Global Studies/Women’s Studies from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston and her MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from Queens College/The City University of New York.

 

Legal Director   National Women's Law Center  

Deputy Director for Civil Rights, Office for Civil Rights  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Legal Consultant  Ms. Foundation for Women

General Counsel  D.C. Office for Human Rights

Senior Trial Attorney  U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - New York District Office

Associate Attorney  Gladstein, Reif, & Megginniss, LLP

Selected Legal Internships and Law Clinics –

Vladeck, Waldman, Elias, & Englehardt (now Vladeck, Raskin & Clark, P.C.)

NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (now Legal Momentum)

Poverty Law Clinic, Northeastern University School of Law

 

SELECTED HIGHLIGHTS

National Women's Law Center

Selected Press Coverage

The Supreme Court ruled in 1986 that sexually harassing behavior must be “severe or pervasive” in order to violate Title VII….Courts have interpreted this vague standard in varying ways, in some cases dismissing claims involving “really egregious” behavior, says Sunu Chandy of the National Women’s Law Center. Ms. Magazine

During the Obama Administration, her office worked to ensure that medical providers did not discriminate against their patients on the basis of sex — including discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. NPR/WAMU

“It’s obviously a form of sex discrimination,” Sunu Chandy, legal director of the NWLC, told Mother Jones. “Whether or not your health care needs are paid for should not depend on the religious views of your boss. We’re confident that that will be found to be illegal.”  Mother Jones

Even though you likely won’t get legal or financial recompense for being harassed in this case, it’s still worth alerting your harasser’s current employer in order to protect the women he works with now, Chandy said. “The question is, what’s the purpose of coming forward? If the reason is to alert other individuals to this problem, then it doesn’t matter how long has gone by,” she told HuffPost.  “You may or may not get [justice]. But if you don’t come forward, you definitely won’t get it,” Chandy added.   Huffington Post

But Sunu Chandy, who was a trial attorney at the EEOC’s New York office from 1999-2014, said unions remained resistant to litigating complaints that they didn’t regard as “traditional” labor issues, such as pay and benefits. Union locals, she said, would slow-walk sexual harassment claims.  “It seemed to me when these issues played out, sexual harassment was not on the top of the list,” said Chandy, now legal director at the National Women’s Law Center. “If there was sexual or racial harassment, it wasn’t taken as seriously.”  Politico

One way to ensure that cases of harassment make an impact on both an individual and a company is to revisit the often-required signing of non-disclosure agreements, said Sunu Chandy, legal director of the National Women’s Law Center.  Chandy notes that such documents can often keep women from connecting with others like them who are victims of the same person or company. “It’s swept under the rug, and they can’t find each other,” she said.    USA Today

“Employers have to balance these pieces, but I think they have erred on the side of not communicating important information to the individual who came forward,” Sunu Chandy, legal director of the National Women's Law Center, told BuzzFeed News. “But obviously employees talk,” she noted, and lack of communication could cause other harassment victims to ponder: “Why should I bring it up? My coworker brought it up and never heard back, so they don't care.”  Buzzfeed

Interview with Stuff Momma Never Told You -- stuffmomnevertoldyou.com

U.S. Health and Human Services- Office for Civil Rights

Selected Highlights

  • HHS OCR Goals and Objectives - see pages 23-25 for 2016-2017 civil rights highlights

  • Agreement to Protect Patients with HIV/AIDS from Discrimination

  • Agreement to Ensure Effective Communication

  • Agreement to Ensure Availability of Language Assistance Services for Individuals with LEP

  • Guidance Ensuring Accessibility - Electronic Information Technology

  • Child Welfare Guidance

District of Columbia Office of Human Rights

U.S.  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

SELECT CASES

Disability Accommodation

Home Depot -  Allowing a Job Coach as a Reasonable Accommodation

The commission had accused the retail giant in a federal lawsuit of violating the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 by failing to notify the woman's coach of disciplinary problems. It said that measure should have been taken under the "reasonable accommodations" provision of the law. "This decree is significant because it sends a message to those who employ the disabled that mental disabilities have to be accommodated just as well as physical disabilities," said Sunu Chandy, the commission lawyer who handled the case for the New York district office.  Clearinghouse

New York Times Coverage of the Consent Decree resolution

National Origin

Plaza Hotel – (Post 9/11 harassment)

Sunu P. Chandy, EEOC New York Senior Trial Attorney, said, "The EEOC takes very seriously allegations of harassment based on religion and/or national origin. The EEOC will continue to vigorously pursue such cases. We are proud of these brave employees who stepped forward to the EEOC to report the harassment. We are likewise pleased that the Fairmont hotel management entities have agreed to implement improved procedures to train their managers and employees at 14 hotels nationwide that should assist in preventing future discrimination.".   EEOC

Language Justice

Highland Hospital – “English-Only” case  

Sunu Chandy is a senior Trial Attorney in the EEOC's New York office. She says Highland has instituted an English-only, no Spanish policy. Chandy says the policy applied to housekeeping staff with limited English ability, and this caused confusion on the job. She says it was a blanket policy throughout the hospital, and was applied in a discriminatory fashion, targeting Spanish-speaking employees. In one case, the EEOC charges Spanish-speaking employees were penalized for saying "Hasta la Vista" after punching out for the day.  WXXI News

Related NPR Interview- https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=11008747

Religious Accommodation  

ConocoPhillips

EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Sunu P. Chandy added, “Employers are obligated to explore reasonable alternative arrangements to attempt to accommodate religious beliefs. There are many avenues available, including shift swapping, flexible scheduling to allow an employee to take off a portion of a work day to attend religious services, the transfer of an employee to a different assignment, or allowing an employee to take vacation time or unpaid leave.”    EEOC.GOV

Grand Central Partnership

Sunu P. Chandy, senior trial attorney in the EEOC’s New York District Office, added, “Employers are obligated to explore how they may accommodate employees’ or applicants’ religious beliefs. In addition to time off for religious services, this may also include accommodations such as allowing time and space for prayer during the workday or, as in this case, making adjustments to grooming and uniform policies.”  EEOC.GOV

United Health Programs

“While religious or spiritual practices may indeed provide comfort and community to many people, it is critical to be aware that federal law prohibits employers from coercing employees to take part in them,” Sunu Chandy, senior trial attorney at the commission, said in a statement.  reuters.com

Vonage

"They just were not working with him to accommodate him, said Sunu P. Chandy, senior trial attorney at the EEOC's New York office. "An employer has to accommodate their employees' religious needs unless it causes undue hardship. This was a six-week training program, and I would find it very hard to believe that missing two days of a six-week training program would cause the company an undue hardship."   njjewishnews.com

Tri-County Lexus

Press release:   EEOC    Sikh Coalition

Racial and National-Origin Based Harassment

Benenson Rehabilitation Pavilion

“The EEOC commends the five charging parties for their courage in bringing this matter to our attention,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Sunu P. Chandy. “Cases involving race and national origin are EEOC priorities.”   EEOC.GOV

Books for Less

"The retaliation was very severe," said Sunu P. Chandy, an EEOC senior trial attorney in New York. "It involved discrimination and writeups without reason. But it got even worse. [Managers] were even calling the employees' homes to intimidate their children."   post-gazette.com

Racial Harassment / Same-Sex Sexual Harassment

Slavin & Sons

“Thanks to Kevin Pierson’s EEOC charge and this lawsuit, employees at M. Slavin will now be able to work in an environment free from discrimination,” said Sunu P. Chandy, a senior trial attorney in the EEOC's New York District Office. “If an incident does occur, there will be an objective investigation into these complaints. The EEOC is grateful to all individuals who stepped forward, despite their fears of retaliation, to assist us in the prosecution of this matter.”  eeoc.gov   eeoc.gov

"The stunning facts of this case remind us of an ugly time in our nations history," said Sunu Chandy with the EEOC. "The actions of these white owners, who subjected particularly men of color to horrendous physical and sexual harassment and racial comments, must be challenged."  nbcnewyork.com

Sex Discrimination

Dollar Bright

The EEOC charged that Samera Khalid, a former cashier at Dollar Bright, was subjected to grabbing, sexual touching, and other inappropriate and unwanted physical contact as well as sexual comments from her store supervisor an Indian by birth and that Dollar Bright fired Samera after she complained about the harassment.  Samera worked there for about five months last year, during which time the supervisor harassed her verbally as well as physically, said Sunu Chandy, the trial attorney. When Samera’s father complained to the top management, they said that the supervisor was an important employee of the organization and so they would not take any action against him. And they suggested Samera should leave the job. All of this conduct violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin and protects employees who complain about such offenses from retaliation. 

According to the U.S. Southern District Court of New York, the company has agreed to take active steps to provide for greater protection from workplace harassment, including training regarding discrimination and harassment for all supervisors, managers and employees and implementing a comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Policy and Complaint Procedure at over 40 stores where U.S. Dream provides management services. Additionally, the companies will compensate Khalid $25,000.  Chandy said that normally the EEOC, a government body, does not hear individual cases. But, since Samera’s case involved making a point about the issue in the South Asian community, they decided to take it up. The most significant aspect here is that is that the EEOC does not make inquiries into the immigration status of complainants.   911digitalarchive.org

Morgan Stanley (team of attorneys) 

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MWD) today announced a $54 million settlement of a sex discrimination lawsuit under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act filed on behalf of a class of female officers and women eligible for officer promotion in the firm's Institutional Equity Division. As part of the settlement, at least $2 million will be provided for diversity programs designed to enhance the compensation and promotional opportunities for female employees within Morgan Stanley.  EEOC.GOV

Carrols Corporation (team of attorneys) -

Carrols Corporation, the world's largest Burger King franchisee, will pay $2.5 million and take significant remedial steps to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The lawsuit alleged discrimination against 89 female employees around the country, many of whom were teenagers when they worked for Carrols.  EEOC.GOV

Related Press: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2004/04/huge_harassment_suit_targets_c.html

Le Bar Bat    

Press:  Newsday   NY Times     

Court Ruling Re Retaliation:   leagle.com

Age Discrimination

PJP Health Services, Inc -

 "Our hope is that supervisors, particularly younger ones, as was the case here, do not continue to feel emboldened to harass and terminate older employees, but rather become informed that this conduct violates federal law," said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Sunu P. Chandy.  "We are proud of these older workers who risked much to come forward to challenge this type of illegal workplace behavior."  EEOC.GOV

Nassau County Police Department

“The EEOC hopes this settlement encourages employers to think twice before subtly or overtly pushing senior employees towards retirement in order to save money, or for any other illegal purpose based on age,” said Sunu P. Chandy, the EEOC attorney on the case.

Arthur D’Alessandro, one of the charging parties added, “This experience has been disheartening and embarrassing to our reputations. We all dedicated our lives to this profession and we deserve to be treated with dignity instead of being humiliated in this way. We appreciate the efforts of the EEOC staff that spent many hours resolving our case. It is good to know that because of the efforts of this agency, others in our position will not be treated this way.”   EEOC.GOV

Eaton’s Neck Fire District

EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Sunu P. Chandy added, “It is honorable when people like Peter Farrell have the courage to pursue their civil rights, both in terms of standing up for their own dignity and furthering the cause of justice on behalf of their colleagues. The EEOC appreciates people like Mr. Farrell who bring these kinds of issues forward to our agency’s attention so that the federal government can vigorously pursue these matters in the benefit of the public interest.   EEOC.GOV

 

Lawyering for the Resistance: A Q&A with Sunu Chandy, National Women’s Law Center’s New Legal Director  

Working for Justice --- Q&A with Sunu Chandy

 
 
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