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Timothy Bolger

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Timothy Bolger is the Editor in Chief of the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.

Long Island Bar Has Liquor License Suspended Due To Social Distancing Violations

Dox in Island Park. (Google Maps Street View)

The New York State Liquor Authority has suspended the liquor license of bar in Island Park following alleged repeat violations of not adhering to social-distancing guidelines to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Dox, a bar on Broadway in the waterfront village, allegedly had 235 patrons packed into an outdoor patio with a legal capacity of 42 when the Nassau County Fire Marshal’s Office conducted a compliance inspection on June 27, SLA said. The investigation followed repeated verbal and written warnings following complaints of overcrowding, noise, and social distancing violations, the agency added. 

“This licensee received repeated warnings and chose to ignore them, causing an unnecessary and avoidable health risk to patrons, employees and the community,” said SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley. “Licensees who ignore these lifesaving protocols are not just jeopardizing their licenses, they’re jeopardizing people’s lives.”

The bar is the first on Long Island to have its license suspension for alleged social-distancing violations. The allegations come after the governor recently warned restaurants that failure to comply with crowd limits to curb the spread of the virus will result in license suspensions. Cuomo previously said he heard complaints from bars in the Hamptons once outdoor dining returned with phase two, but the first suspension came in neighboring Nassau County.

The SLA charged the owners of Dox with 42 violations, including multiple counts of failure to comply with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive orders concerning COVID-19 restaurant capacity restrictions, code violations, and failure to supervise the licensed premises. 

The bar owners will have a chance to defend themselves at an SLA hearing in the near future. 

“It’s unfortunate that it came to a license suspension,” Norah Kelleher told the Oceanside/Island Park Herald. “We are trying to work with the SLA and get it open.”

Related Story: Hamptons Restaurant Crowds May Force Phase 2 Reversal, Cuomo Warns

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Dime Community Bank Merging With BNB Bank

Kevin O'Connor has been CEO of BNB Bank for a decade (Photo by Bob Giglione).

Bridgehampton-headquartered BNB Bank and Dime Community Bank, based in Brooklyn, are merging in a transaction valued at $489 million, the companies announced Wednesday.

The combined bank will operate under the Dime Community Bank name with its new headquarters in Hauppauge. The combined company will have more than $11 billion in assets, more than $8 billion in total deposits, and 66 branches from Montauk to Manhattan.

“This highly compelling combination will allow us to build on our complementary strengths and provide significant value for shareholders,” said Kevin O’Connor, president and CEO of BNB, who will be CEO of the merged banks. “Dime has earned its strong reputation in the greater New York metropolitan market, and I’m thrilled to partner with them. Our enhanced branch footprint and increased capital base will allow us to better serve the needs of our customers.”

The merger comes after Uniondale-based Flushing Financial Corporation announced it’s acquiring Empire Bancorp, Inc., located in Islandia, and New Jersey-based Investors Bancorp acquired Gold Coast Bank, also headquartered in Islandia, last year.

“This merger is the next logical step in Dime’s journey and significantly accelerates our business model transformation,” said Dime Community Bank CEO Kenneth J. Mahon, who will serve as executive chairman of the combined company. “We expect our shareholders to benefit from owning a stronger, more attractive, and more formidable competitor in the New York market.”

The merger was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies. The combined company’s board of directors will have 12 directors, half from BNB and half from Dime. 

Marcia Hefter, the current chairwoman of BNB’s board of directors, will serve as the independent lead director of the combined company. Stuart Lubow, the current president of Dime, will serve as president and chief operating officer of the merged bank.

Certain retail locations in eastern Long Island will operate under the BNB Bank name for at least one year until the transition is complete. The merger is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021, subject to regulatory approvals and approval by the shareholders of each company.

Related Story: BNB Bank CEO Kevin O’Connor: Job Offer Came as Surprise

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Long Island Family of Marine Killed in Afghanistan Demands Accountability In Russian Bounty Probe

Cpl. Robert A. Hendriks, 25, of Locust Valley

The family of a U.S. Marine from Locust Valley who was killed in Afghanistan last year is demanding answers in an investigation into reports that the Russian military may have paid a bounty to the Taliban for the roadside bombing.

Cpl. Robert A. Hendriks, 25, was among three U.S. Marines who were killed in the bombing near Kabul in April 2019. The Associated Press reported that U.S. intelligence agencies are investigating the attack and others last year to see if Russians paid bounties for them.

“The parties who are responsible should be held accountable, if that’s even possible,” Hendriks’ mother, Felicia Arculeo, of Freeport, told CNBC.

President Donald Trump has been under pressure since The New York Times reported on Friday that a Russian military intelligence unit offered such bounties and a later report that he received a written briefing on the matter in February.

Trump has tried to deflect criticism by saying the intelligence was not conclusive enough to be brought to his attention, and by calling news reports “fake news.”

“I was never briefed because any info that they may have had did not rise to that level,” he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

The United States will respond strongly if it is confirmed that Russia paid Taliban-affiliated militants to kill U.S. and allied soldiers in Afghanistan, White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said on Wednesday, without providing details.

“These are important allegations that, if they’re verified I can guarantee you the president will take strong action,” O’Brien told reporters outside the White House, though he added Washington may never know the truth of the matter because of media leaks. “We’ve been working for several months on options.”

-With Reuters

Related Story: Long Islander Among 3 Marines Killed in Afghanistan

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Southampton, NYC Philanthropist Jean Shafiroff Inspires Giving Amid Difficult Times

Jean Shafiroff says getting dressed up for charity galas helps draw bigger crowds and raise more money. (Photo by Michael Paniccia)

It’s easy to become disheartened upon reading news about the coronavirus pandemic, but for Southampton and New York City philanthropist Jean Shafiroff, it’s the most important motivation for staying positive, spearheading fundraising, and advocating for her causes.

The former Wall Street investment banker who’s a board member and charity gala organizer for an array of nonprofits, who has penned a book on benevolence, Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life by What You Give, is as charitable as ever, despite her fundraiser galas that she often organizes being on hiatus due to COVID-19’s social distancing mandates.

“I’ve switched gears a little and I’m doing a lot of advocacy work on television and radio for the charities because most of the charity events have been canceled,” she tells the Press. “And of course I cannot host large cocktail parties for 100 people for charity in my home, because everyone’s home and everyone’s social distancing … The actual physical gala does not exist right now and we don’t know when it will return.”

Like many not-for-profit fundraisers, across the region and beyond, most charitable events she’s involved with have been postponed to the fall or beyond; some have been canceled, while others are moving ahead virtually. In addition, she recently began hosting a show called Successful Philanthropy on LTV in the Hamptons.

Regardless of the format, what’s most important to Shafiroff is simply giving back. She serves on the boards of The Southampton Hospital Association, the New York Mission Society, the French Heritage Society, the Couture Council that runs the Fashion Institute of Technology’s museum, the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation, and Global Strays, a nonprofit founded by her youngest daughter. She’s also an honorary trustee of the The Jewish Board, where she served as a board member for 28 years.

She is active in women’s issues and is an alumnus of the New York Women’s Foundation, where she remains active with the organization. Most recently, she was appointed as an ambassador for American Humane and its national spokesperson for its Feed the Hungry program, which aims to provide food for 1 million animals left homeless by the pandemic.
Shafiroff spoke with the Press about her work and why it’s important now more than ever.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

How did your parents influence you? My dad was a schoolteacher. He would come home and always talk about the students and how important their progress was to him. My dad was involved in giving and it had an influence on us. And then my mother was very kind. I was fortunate to have two parents. My mother was a stay-at-home mother. She was originally an artist and when she became pregnant with me and we moved to Hicksville, she stopped working. My father and mother had strong family values and they believed in helping the underserved. Their concern for us and their concern for others left its mark on us.

What are some of your most vivid memories of growing up on Long Island? It was a great place to grow up. I had a supportive family and a good teacher situation. My dad never made me feel like, “Oh, you’re a girl, you have to do this or that or you’re not equal to a boy.” And I really appreciated that. My teachers as well. I had a strong education. I spent 12 years in Catholic school.

When did you decide to switch from a career on Wall Street to full-time philanthropy? My husband and I both worked very long hours. And while I was pregnant I realized that neither of us would ever spend any time with our daughter. So I gave up my career to be a stay-at-home mother. And gradually, I first got involved with my daughters’ school. I was class mother. I got involved in fundraising for the school’s annual campaign. Although I’m a Catholic, I got involved on the board of the American Jewish Committee. I gradually became involved with different charities.

Where do you see there to be the most need? We need to feed America. I think there’s a tremendous need for food at the food pantries. Americans have to help supply the food pantries. Also, the hospitals and the frontline workers are in need of help. We have to continue supporting all charities. No one can do everything. Collectively we can achieve great results. Americans are traditionally very giving. Charity and volunteerism are in our culture. But America needs healthy meals on the table and they need healthcare. Many of the hospitals did not have adequate supplies. They did not have enough respirators, masks, robes, and gloves for their workers.

Can you describe your best day while doing philanthropy? I’m on the board of New York City Mission Society and we serve the most underserved children in New York, meaning they live at or below the poverty level. And so the things I’ve found most rewarding is to see the children and observe how happy they are at the summer program. These children, there is no camp, there is only New York City, there is no place that they can go to. Every year we host a community dinner right before Thanksgiving, where we serve approximately 350 to 400 people in the community. The bond between the community and us is just incredibly rewarding.

How about the worst day? Now, to see all this suffering. The 30 million Americans out of work. To see all the people on the food pantry lines and the frustration of knowing that I’m one person, I can’t do everything. Recently my husband and I donated 10,000 meals to the Heart of The Hamptons. But this won’t solve the country’s problems. To see this human suffering, many nights I try to sleep and I can’t sleep. I’m very upset over what’s going on now. There’s a lot of help in our country, but what’s going on is catastrophic.

Do you have any favorite sayings? Einstein: “It’s every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out.” That’s not mine but I like it.

Are there any misconceptions that people have about your work that you’d like to clarify? When you go out to a big gala and you are very dressed up people sometimes think, “Why are people so dressed up for a charity gala?” But by making the event glamorous and by having people get dressed up, people tend to want to go to the party, so more money is raised. And when more money is raised, then the charity prospers. If it helps bring in more money, then why not?

Are you planning a follow-up to your book? This book was written to inspire people and encourage people, not only to give monetarily but to volunteer. If you don’t have the  money to give you can be a philanthropist just by donating your time and your knowledge. And then of course if you have resources, I believe you have an obligation to give back financially. I would like to write a followup to my book, but I just need to find the time. Right now I’m involved in a lot of different fundraising efforts and this takes a lot of time.

Is there anything I didn’t ask about that you’d like to add? I would like to encourage the readers to never feel that they don’t have anything to offer. Please don’t be afraid to get involved in the volunteer process. Each and every one of us has something good they can offer. And never feel if you’re donating that it isn’t enough. Give what you can. During times like this, never underestimate the value of compassion. We can pitch in a little bit and help out. A lot of people say, “What I can do isn’t going to amount to much.” But collectively it does amount to something. It amounts to a lot.

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Supreme Court Verdict A Win For Patchogue Woman Who Sued To Block Trump Bid To Nix DACA

Demonstrators rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court as justices were scheduled to hear oral arguments in the consolidation of three cases before the court regarding the Trump administration’s bid to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in Washington, U.S., November 12, 2019. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo)

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of an immigration advocate from Patchogue who sued to block the Trump administration’s decision to end a program that protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of young immigrants.

Eliana Fernández, an Ecuadorean immigrant and lead organizer of nonprofit Make The Road New York, was among a half dozen plaintiffs who sued to reverse President Donald Trump’s rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that shields from deportation children, dubbed “Dreamers,” brought to the U.S. by undocumented immigrants. The justice’s 5-4 vote upholds a lower court’s ruling that Trump’s move to end the program was unlawful.

“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies. We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action,” Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in joining the court’s four liberals in finding that the administration’s actions were “arbitrary and capricious” under a federal law called the Administrative Procedure Act.

Fernández, a 31-year-old mother of two and DACA recipient who arrived at age 14, was among 200 people who marched 230 miles over 16 days to Washington, D.C. ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court hearing in November to raise awareness to the issue.

The ruling means that the roughly 649,000 immigrants, mostly young Hispanic adults born in Mexico and other Latin American countries, currently enrolled in DACA will remain protected from deportation and eligible to obtain renewable two-year work permits.

The ruling does not prevent Trump from trying again to end the program. But his administration is unlikely to be able to end DACA before the Nov. 3 election in which Trump is seeking a second four-year term in office.

The ruling marks the second time this week that Roberts has ruled against Trump in a major case following Monday’s decision finding that gay and transgender workers are protected under federal employment law. That case also had a plaintiff with Long Island ties.

The court’s four other conservatives including two Trump appointees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, dissented.

“Today’s decision must be recognized for what it is: an effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision,” conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in dissent.

Trump was not pleased with the ruling.

“These horrible and politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are a shotgun blast into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives,” the president tweeted after the ruling was announced.

-With Reuters

Related Story: U.S. Supreme Court Hearing Long Island Immigrant’s Case For DACA

Related Story: Ending DACA May Cost 40K New Yorkers Their Benefits

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Long Island “On Track” For Phase Three of Reopening From Coronavirus Shutdown Wednesday

Restaurant workers are required to wear masks during the region's reopening from the coronavirus shutdown. (Getty Images)

Long Island is gearing up for the third phase of reopening from the coronavirus shutdown, despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo warning this week that he could roll back reopening after complaints of social distancing violations.

Phase three includes indoor dining capped at 50 percent capacity, and personal care, such as nail salons, tattoo parlors, massage therapists, and spas.

“Long Island is on track for Wednesday,” the governor told reporters during his daily coronavirus news briefing. 

Much of upstate New York, which was less impacted by COVID-19 than the downstate regions, has already entered phase three. The only region lagging behind LI is harder-hit New York City, which enters phase two on Monday.

If there is no spike in COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations between the phases, LI is expected to reach the fourth and final phase of reopening on July 8. Phase four includes education, recreation, and arts and entertainment.

Cuomo’s comment on the Island’s progress comes after he said the Hamptons and Manhattan led the state in complaints of violations of mask and social distancing requirements that continue to be in effect during the reopening. 

The governor had warned that he could “roll back the reopening in those areas” if local governments and restaurant owners fail to enforce the law. He also warned that restaurants risk their liquor license if they incur violations.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said his office was unaware of the complaints and indicated that police have reported widespread compliance with the pandemic-prevention rules. Neither the governor’s office nor the New York State Liquor Authority responded to requests of what specific businesses on LI received complaints.

Related Story: How An Army of Contact Tracers Are Key To Long Island’s Reopening

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Long Island Manufacturers Retool To Make PPE

LI companies are increasingly making masks and shields. (Getty Images)

Long Island’s manufacturers became unsung heroes of the coronavirus pandemic after companies ranging from defense contractors to Halloween costume makers started churning out personal protective equipment to help meet the overwhelming demand.

Farmingdale-based musical instrument maker D’Addario & Co. Inc. had its engineers convert a drum-making facility so that it could make face shields, as is building supply company Corinthian Cast Stone based in Wyandanch, vending machine maker Vengo Labs in Bethpage, and Core SWX, a battery charger manufacturer in Plainview. And making face masks are Ronkonkoma-based military aircraft component maker East/West Industries, Melville-based leather maker Graphic Image, and Rubie’s Costume Company based in Melville, among many others.

“It’s our intention to manufacture these shields as long as they’re needed in New York or anywhere around the globe,” said John D’Addario III, CEO of D’Addario & Co., which aims to reach a capacity of 100,000 face shields per week. “We’ve watched the incredible efforts of our healthcare and essential services workers all across the world with great admiration. While we cannot match the immeasurable efforts of these selfless heroes, we feel an immense responsibility to do our part in overcoming the COVID-19 crisis.”

The moves mirror similar actions larger manufacturers nationwide have made to help combat COVID-19 — widely considered the most significant business response of its kind since World War II — with the likes of Hanes making masks and ExxonMobil turning out hand sanitizer, to name a few. 

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone lauded East/West Industries for its mask-making partnership with the Suffolk County Sewing Consortium, a group of local fashion designers using their sewing skills to help with the cause.

“They wanted to do something to help our first responders, particularly for our law enforcement personnel,” Bellone said. “They wanted to make face coverings for them. And they put to work their expertise in design, and engineering, and production, and industrial sewing, to do just that.”

And with demand for PPE not waning anytime soon, these local companies have got the region’s front-line workers covered.

Related Story: Long Island Mask Maker Crosstex Working Overtime To Meet Demand

Related Story: Long Island Distilleries Making Hand Sanitizer To Help Fight Coronavirus

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Trump’s Niece From Long Island Set To Publish Tell-All

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump spoke at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood on Friday, July 28, 2017.

Mary Trump, President Donald Trump’s niece from Long Island, will soon publish a scathing tell-all book about her uncle — marking the first time one of his family members airs his dirty laundry.

Simon & Schuster confirmed Monday that it will publish the 240-page book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, which is scheduled to be released on July 28.

“In this revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him, Mary L. Trump, a trained clinical psychologist and Donald’s only niece, shines a bright light on the dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric,” the publisher wrote in a preview of the book. “She alone can recount this fascinating, unnerving saga, not just because of her insider’s perspective but also because she is the only Trump willing to tell the truth about one of the world’s most powerful and dysfunctional families.”

Mary, 55, is the daughter of the president’s older brother, Fred Trump Jr., who died of a heart attack in 1981 at age 42 due to complications related to alcoholism. The president told The Washington Post last year that he regretted pressuring his older brother to get into the family real estate business despite Fred Jr.’s reluctance. 

The Daily Beast reported Monday that in the book, Mary reveals that she was the source that provided The New York Times with her grandfather Fred Trump Sr.’s tax returns, exposing the president’s role in an allegedly fraudulent tax scheme — which involved several properties on LI — detailed in the newspaper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation. 

The president’s niece and his alleged tax scheme isn’t his only ties to the Island. Key to helping him get elected was reclusive billionaire hedge fund manager, political mega-donor, and Head of The Harbor resident Robert Mercer, who co-founded Cambridge Analytica, the political consulting firm that abused Facebook data to help Trump’s 2016 campaign. Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and witness tampering, forfeited his $2 million Bridgehampton mansion before being sentenced to 7 1/2 years in federal prison. And the president’s former personal attorney, Lawrence native Michael Cohen, who was released early from federal prison last month due to coronavirus concerns, had pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, tax fraud, and bank fraud for, among other things, paying hush money to porn stars with whom Trump allegedly had affairs.

Two of the president’s spokesmen also lived on LI. His first White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, who infamously started his first day on the job by stating that Trump’s inauguration was the most-attended presidential swearing-in ceremony ever despite photos proving the contrary, was born in Manhasset. And Anthony Scaramucci, who was White House spokesman for 11 days — tying for the shortest tenure in that title — was raised in Port Washington.

Many former members of the Trump administration have gone on to publish books about their experiences — both positive and negative. Trump’s niece’s book will come out shortly after former national security adviser John Bolton‘s new tell-all book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, was set to be published on June 23, until Trump sued to block its release.

Mary’s book is due to be released a month before the Republican National Convention in the final months before the presidential elections as her uncle seeks a second term. But the bad blood between the president and his niece goes back decades. She and her brother, Fred Trump III, sued in 2000 for not getting a larger piece of their grandfather’s inheritance, which they argued was needed to help afford medical care for Fred’s son, William, who has cerebral palsy.

“My aunt and uncles should be ashamed of themselves,” Mary told the New York Daily News in a rare interview 20 years ago. “I’m sure they are not.”

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Viral Video of Nassau Police Arresting Protester Sparks Probe

Nassau County Police

A viral video of Nassau County police officers arresting a protester Friday in East Meadow has prompted the department to launch an internal affairs investigation into the incident, officials said.

The video, viewed nearly 7 million times as of this post, shows officers surrounding a protest organizer walking down the middle of a street while pulling an amplifier on wheels he used to lead the march. An officer walking in front of him then stops, prompting the protester to bump into him before the other officers tackle the protester to the ground and take him into custody.

“We have seen the video, we take every complaint seriously, and before we even received one complaint about this incident, we started proactively an investigation,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran told reporters Monday.

The march was one of dozens held locally in recent weeks in support of nationwide protests sparked by a shocking video of a white Minneapolis police officer allegedly killing an unarmed black man by placing a knee on his neck and ignoring the victim’s pleas that he couldn’t breathe. Four cops were fired and charged in the death of George Floyd.

Curran noted that of the nearly 100 Floyd protests in Nassau alone that saw an estimated 35,000 participants, there were only two incidents resulting in arrests: Friday in East Meadow, and a week prior in Merrick. Two officers were injured in the earlier incident.

Suffolk County police have arrested two protesters marching on William Floyd Parkway in Shirley, a man who tried to run over protesters on a sidewalk in West Babylon, and are investigating as a hate crime an incident in which a pair of protesters were assaulted in Smithtown.

The West Hempstead man, his brother, and a third man arrested in the East Meadow incident were charged with disorderly conduct and released on appearance tickets. The man in the video, Terrel Tuosto, who’s been protesting daily for two weeks, said he won’t be intimidated.

“The sentiment I heard while I was with police officers (in the holding cell) was, ‘You guys had your fun the last couple weeks, but playtime is over,'” he told CNN. “It could have gone a lot worse if there weren’t people and cameras there.”

Officials said police were just trying to keep people from getting hurt.

“Safety is always our overriding concern,” Curran said. “We want to make sure that we’re keeping the community and protesters safe, police safe, and the drivers on the road safe. So that is always our No. 1 concern.”

Related Story: 11 Arrested, 4 Injured During Weekend of George Floyd Protests on Long Island

Related Story: Driver Arrested For Nearly Running Over Teen Protestor in West Babylon

Related Story: Flashes of Intolerance Amid Long Island George Floyd Protests

Related Story: Thousands of George Floyd Protesters Again Take Over Long Island Roads

Related Story: Internet Rumors of Long Island Protest Violence Untrue, Cops Say

Related Story: Merrick Residents Try To Block Anti-Police Brutality Protesters

Related Story: Police Brutality Protests Across Long Island Spark Riot Fears

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Long Island Case Plays Key Role in Supreme Court Ruling LGBT Workers Protected From Discrimination

David Kilmnick holds up a photo of Donald Zarda at the Hauppauge office of the Long Island LGBT Network on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. Long Island Press photo

The U.S. Supreme Court cited the case of a man who claimed Long Island Skydive fired him for being gay in the top court’s ruling that extend federal anti-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The case involved Donald Zarda, who sued the former owners of the Calverton-based skydiving company arguing that his firing violated discrimination laws. The company’s former owners countered that Zarda was fired for making a customer feel uncomfortable and appealed to the highest court in the land.

“An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII,” the court majority ruled in a 6-3 ruling, in which Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion. “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”

The Zarda case is one of three LGBT discrimination cases that the Supreme Court heard on the issue. 

The second case involved a transgender woman who claimed that she was fired from her job at a Michigan funeral home after telling her boss that she was transitioning — a case that she won and a Cincinnati federal appeals court affirmed. The third case involved a Georgia man who argued that he was fired from his Clayton County job for being gay, although in his case, he lost his lawsuit and a federal appeals court in Atlanta also ruled against him.

In the Zarda case, he claimed that he was fired by the now-defunct skydiving company due at least in part to his sexual orientation. A federal trial court in New York, applying precedents from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, rejected his Title VII claim. The Court of Appeals, however, in an en banc hearing of the full Second Circuit bench, overruled numerous of its earlier precedents and found that the Title VII claim should not have been dismissed since that law applies to sexual orientation discrimination.

After initiating his lawsuit, Zarda died in a skydiving accident, and the case had been carried forward by his estate.

-With Gay City News. For more on this story, visit gaycitynews.com

Related Story: Long Island LGBT Discrimination Case Goes Before U.S. Supreme Court

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