Stephen M. Bourtin Connecticut Office Head
Stephen heads up the Stamford, Connecticut office of BLG. He has is often featured in the Connecticut press relating to employment matters, and has spent his career as a litigator practicing often relating to executive contract and whistleblower disputes, class action including wage/hour class action prosecution and defense, FINRA and securities litigations and general employment and non-compete litigation.
Stephen has also represented small business clients in defense of various governmental and regulatory investigations and relating to business employment policies and compliance. After graduating law school, Stephen served as a law clerk to the Honorable Richard W. Vollmer, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama.
Prior to joining the firm, Stephen was an associate in the Employment Law department of a national law firm and an associate for a top tier litigation firm. Stephen was Executive Editor of the Boston College Law School International and Comparative Law Review. Steve is a devout fan of the Yankees and Giants and lives in Fairfield County.
Boston College Law School, J.D. (2000) - Cum Laude
Boston College, B.A. (1996)
Recognition and Accomplishments
Named Top Lawyer in Fairfield County in 2015. Stephen was featured as one of Fairfield County's top labor and employment law attorneys in Westport Magazine's November/December 2015 issue.
Boston College Law School, J.D. (2000) - Cum Laude
Boston College, B.A. (1996)
Federal Court Admissions:
Boston College Law School, J.D. (2000) - Cum Laude
Boston College, B.A. (1996)
Press and Accomplishments
May 3, 2019
On Monday, April 22, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States announced it would be deciding whether a federal law prohibits employer discrimination against gay and transgender workers. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars employment discrimination based on “sex.” The Justices will decide whether this language also encompasses discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender status, in order to resolve a split among how the federal appellate courts have interpreted the law previously. Two recent decisions which held that discrimination against gays and lesbians is covered under Title VII, plus another with a contrary ruling, will be heard and decided by the summer of 2020. The Justices’ decision will settle this longstanding dispute and will certainly be a political factor during the 2020 presidential campaign.
April 13, 2019
Patrick Boyd is looking forward to appearing on a panel at the the St. John’s University School Of Law Center for Employment Law on May 6, 2019 relating to new discrimination laws and one of BLG’s cases covered by the NY Times.
April 5, 2019
On Monday, April 1, 2019 the United States Department of Labor released a proposal that would limit the extent to which claims can be brought against large companies for employment-law violations by their contractors or franchisees. The proposal requires a 60-day public comment period before being finalized and, if passed, could affect millions of employees and their ability to bring wage claims.
The central concern for employees is that franchisees may often be poorly run and not particularly lucrative, making it difficult for employees to recover illegally denied wages against them. As a result, some argue that the larger companies affiliated with such smaller direct employers should be held liable for the conduct of their franchisees. On the other hand, some wonder whether large employers should be responsible for conduct by what are often mostly independent affiliates. The new proposal, if adopted, will certainly help insulate larger employers and deserves focus and attention regardless of one’s views on the matter.#Newlaborlawdevelopments#BLG
March 22, 2019
On February 25, 2019, BLG attorney Stephen Bourtin successfully advanced a gender discrimination, sexual harassment action for a client in the New York County Supreme Court. The Defendant is accused of terminating the Plaintiff in retaliation for her having repeatedly resisted her manager’s unwanted sexual advances and groping of her and other female coworkers in the workplace. The Defendant denied these allegations and filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to have Plaintiff’s case dismissed in its entirety prior to trial. After hearing oral argument, the Court denied the Defendant’s motion in its entirety, concluding that the contradictory testimony of the parties required credibility determinations and weighing of evidence that was inappropriate for summary judgment. This is another solid win for Mr. Bourtin and The Boyd Law Group.
If you would like to review a copy of the decision please email Rachel McCormick at firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy or take a look at docket #150294/2011 online.
February 24, 2019
February 11, 2019
In September 2018, twelve women told the New York Times that they had been sexually assaulted or harassed by CBS chief executive Les Moonves. Moonves negotiated his exit from the company shortly thereafter, attempting to secure a $120 million severance payout which was provided for in his contract. But CBS lawyers investigated the allegations against Moonves and found grounds to terminate him for cause and withheld his severance payout based on the alleged harassment, violations of company policies, breach of contract, misfeasance and his failure to fully cooperate with their investigation.
The tensions involved in this case are instructive for all dealing with sexual harassment claims in this era. On the one hand, Moonves should certainly be held accountable for his alleged bad acts if proven true. But on the other, in establishing these bad acts, CBS must acknowledge that the network apparently allowed such conduct to take place for years - which may expose their own lack of vigilance. In this light, should CBS prevail and be allowed to keep all or much of the 120 million, would such an outcome be something of a pyrrhic victory for the network? #pursuitoftruthcosts$, #plentyofblametogoaround
January 4, 2019
The Boyd Law Group is excited to be a sponsor of the Carriage Barn Art Center's 39th Annual Photography Show. The event will take place at Waveny Park in New Canaan, CT from January 12th - February 15th, 2018. Please visit the link below for gallery hours and additional information. We are grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this unique event. #giveback#BLGsupportingthearts
January 4, 2019
In recent years, many employers have drafted policies compelling their employees into arbitration - requiring employees to resolve any employment related disputes via a private arbitrator (or arbitrators) rather than in court before a judge or a jury. Arbitrations can be beneficial for employers as they are generally cheaper than litigation and remain confidential which can allow employers to keep potentially embarrassing facts from public disclosure. Employers also prefer arbitration because in this forum employees may be required to waive their rights to class action lawsuits – they are forced to arbitrate their claims individually and cannot “team up” as a class of aggrieved employees.
The attached article references a thorny situation with the Chipotle restaurant franchise, which required its employees to enter into arbitration and was faced with a class action lawsuit which it mandated be resolved through arbitration. The employees’ attorney responded to this compelled arbitration by initiating separate arbitration demands on behalf of each employee. This caused Chipotle to be responsible for the arbitration costs of each employee’s action in addition to its own attorney’s fees. Those aggregated costs proved daunting for Chipotle, and led them to seek court intervention though their own policies had compelled arbitration initially. Chipotle was chastised by a judge for taking this contradictory position.
Simply put, the arbitration fees that an employer might face - especially in a class action context – can be steep. Arbitration provisions, which are usually adopted by employers in their templates for offer letters and/or handbooks can, thus, be less than helpful when applied to the wrong situation. Small businesses should be mindful not to place too much trust in the various samples that may be available online when crafting their own policies. If such policies can prove problematic to such a large company, imagine how they might harm your business! #BLGadviceforsmallbusinesses
December 21, 2018
New York regulators fined Barclay’s bank $15 million after CEO Jes Staley attempted to unmask a whistleblower in 2016. The whistleblower had anonymously written two letters to Barclay’s board expressing concern that Tim Main had been hired to run the financial institutions group.
Staley told his board he thought unmasking a whistleblower was legal — and while he was able to keep his position as CEO he was publicly reprimanded by the bank. The New York State Department of Financial Services acknowledged that Staley was likely trying to protect his friend and colleague from what he felt was “unwanted and unfair publicity”, but nonetheless determined Barclays’ “shortcomings in governance, controls and corporate culture” breached New York state banking laws. Staley had been fined previously for these same actions by U.K. regulators.
Corporate whistleblowers enjoy certain protections under the law and it is essential that they feel safe to come forward and shed light on illegal practices in the workplace. BLG handles whistleblowing and retaliation cases and we encourage you to review the article linked below and become familiar with whistleblower laws to better understand employees’ rights – especially in the financial services sector. #BLG #whistleblowersrights
December 10, 2018
Last month the New York City Council passed legislation which requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide a lactation room for expressing breast milk. The new bill expands upon the already-existing requirements under New York State Labor Law for businesses to provide reasonable unpaid break time (or permit employees to use paid break time) to express milk in the workplace for up to three years following the birth of a child, and to make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location, other than a restroom, to express milk in private.
If the bill is signed into law by mayor Bill Deblasio, which is expected, it will take effect 120 days after the date of his signature. The Boyd Law Group will be monitoring the passage and effective date of this legislation. If you have questions or concerns about this legislation or any other labor and employment law questions, please feel free to contact us. #employmentlawchanges#
November 16, 2018
In 2011, the Obama administration set guidelines for colleges and universities to follow when handling sexual assault and harassment allegations. The Department of Education’s Civil Rights Division sent letters to over 7,000 colleges and universities that receive federal funding advising them to “lower the standard of proof required to find a student guilty of a sexual offense.” This change notably altered the procedure for sexual assault investigations and allowed victims toavoid open hearings and the trauma of being cross-examined and having their claims scrutinized.
Recently, many of the accused under the 2011 protocol have challenged this framework claiming they are being denied due process and wrongfully punished and/or expelled for false allegations. In response, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is expected to release a complete revision to guidelines for how colleges and universities must handle sexual assault and harassment allegations sometime before this Thanksgiving. These new rules have been declared to “reduce liability for universities, tighten the definition of sexual harassment, and allow schools to use a higher standard in evaluating claims of sexual harassment and assault.” Once the proposal is published in the Federal Register it will be open for public review and comment before it becomes finalized.
Finding the right balance in these delicate and difficult situations is the key -- and this is far from an easy task. Victims’ rights advocates worry that the new guidelines will discourage victims from coming forward with complaints while others feel that the standards set in 2011 did not provide the accused the rights they deserve to defend themselves. We encourage you to read through the article below on this important and evolving issue in education and BLG will continue to keep you updated on the developments. #stayengagedwithusatBLG!
October 19, 2018
A Connecticut woman recently won her lawsuit against an employer that rescinded her job offer after she failed a pre-employment drug screening by testing positive for marijuana. Plaintiff Katelin Noffsinger was offered a position as activities manager for Bridge Brook Health & Rehabilitation Center, pending admission of a drug test. Noffsinger informed Bridge Brook that she had been prescribed medical marijuana for her PTSD following a car accident, and assured the company that she was a registered user of medical marijuana and only used it at night so that it would not affect her job performance. After Noffsiger received a positive test result, the company, a government contractor, rescinded her job offer and Noffsinger sued, alleging they had violated the Connecticut Palliative Use of Marijuana Act’s (PUMA) anti-discrimination provision.
A September 5, 2018 federal district court decision by Judge Jeffrey Meyer ruled in favor of Noffsinger – with the amount of damages to be awarded yet to be determined. This decision serves as a reminder to Connecticut employers to evaluate their policies regarding marijuana use outside of the workplace – the state currently has nearly 28,000 medical marijuana patients and the number continues to grow. The Connecticut Department of Labor is hoping to assist employers in becoming educated on laws regarding medical marijuana use, going so far as to hold workshops to discuss issues that may be encountered in the workplace and ways to ensure balance between employers’ policies and permitted medical marijuana use under Connecticut Law.
We encourage you to read through the article below, which includes a link to the court’s decision. Decisions as to medical marijuana use are likely to proliferate in the coming months and years and BLG will continue to keep you apprised of the developments.
September 28, 2018
Following a current trend, on August 10th, 2018 the Governor of Massachusetts signed into law a statute governing non-compete agreements, restricting their potential scope, and in certain circumstances requiring employees constrained by them to receive pay for the duration of the restriction. Massachusetts is now yet another state with legislation meaningfully impacting the relationship between employers and employees with regard to restrictive covenants. California, Montana and North Dakota and have already passed similar laws.
It will be interesting to see whether this trend continues or impacts the laws or courts in the Tri-State area. At The Boyd Law Group, PLLC we will be watching carefully.
September 7, 2018
Colin Kaepernick’s grievance case against the NFL will be allowed to proceed after a recent arbitration decision in his favor. Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL alleging that team owners colluded against him to keep him out of the league.
The arbitrator’s decision denied the NFL’s request to dismiss Kaepernick’s grievance, refusing to ignore the possibility that there may be evidence of collusion within the information provided by his legal team.
A trial date will likely be set before the end of 2018, but first the issue of additional discovery must be decided. This will entail more evidence gathering which will likely include additional depositions of NFL owners.
BLG is looking at this as a practical, legal matter; Kaepernick brought a claim against the NFL and it has not been finally adjudicated -- or close. We aren't commenting on the political aspect of this case, but simply pointing out that this is an important issue that has become a politically controversial topic with arguably too may parties weighing in before any meaningful outcomes have been reached. Too much news these days is rushed and impatient – let’s let the case play out more fully before championing either cause! #pleasewaitforthefacts
August 31, 2018
The Boyd Law Group, PLLC just filed race discrimination and retaliation
The Me Too movement has had an impact here in New York. Recent changes in the New York State and New York City sexual harassment laws, some of which are now coming into effect, will require employers to provide annual anti-harassment training to employees and to implement potentially new anti-harassment policies. The changes also: 1) require that a “standard complaint form” be provided to employees with harassment claims; 2) prohibit non-disclosure obligations in sexual harassment settlements or agreements unless the complainant prefers confidentiality; and 3) prohibit employers from mandating arbitration as the forum to adjudicate claims of sexual harassment.
If you are an employer, or an employee, and especially one who is dealing with a pending or potential harassment claim, be mindful of these important legal changes – and contact our attorneys at BLG for further assistance and counsel.
August 31, 2018
Recently, in Epic Systems v. Lewis, the Supreme Court upheld employment agreements that force individuals to arbitrate wage and hour claims.
Employment contracts requiring individual arbitration proceedings for the resolution of employee disputes are common and often mandated by employers. This decision reduces the opportunity for employees to proceed as a group in class actions on wage claims and, thus, may reduce enforcement of employees’ disputes, as individual employee claims may not be strong or valuable enough to warrant the expense of a separate arbitration proceeding. The dissent written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg expressed the view that this decision may result in an “under-enforcement of federal and state statutes designed to advance the well-being of vulnerable workers.”
Both sides of the aisle have, in our opinion, over-reacted somewhat to this decision and its implications going forward. It may prove to be part of a continuing trend however, and we are closely following such rulings. We encourage you to take a few minutes to read through the linked article for a more thorough analysis of the Court’s decision.