Jessenia Maldonado is an associate attorney at Phillips & Associates, focusing on labor and employment discrimination that arises out of violations of Title VII, § 1981, ADEA, ADA, FLSA, and FMLA. She handles matters from inception through all phases of litigation. Attorney Maldonado has represented residents of New York in mediations before the EEOC, JAMS, and the Southern District of New York under the court’s alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) program. She is fluent in Spanish.
One of the areas that Ms. Maldonado's practice focuses on is Title VII, a federal law that prohibits employment discrimination and harassment based on certain protected characteristics, such as race, color, national origin, sex, and religion. Under Title VII, it is unlawful to take any adverse employment action—such as termination, refusal to hire, or refusal to promote—with respect to these protected characteristics of employees or job applicants. For example, you cannot be denied a promotion because you are Hispanic, or for any personal characteristic associated with being Hispanic, such as your skin color or accent. The law applies to employers with 15 or more employees.
Title VII is enforced by the EEOC. Before a private lawsuit based on discrimination can be filed, you will first need to file a charge with the EEOC. There are strict time limits for filing your complaint, but in general, it is a good idea to consult an attorney as soon as you realize you want to file the charge, so that you have effective representation while the EEOC investigates. An employee who can prove discrimination may be able to recover compensatory damages, rehiring, reinstatement, promotion, punitive damages, and attorneys' fees and costs.
Ms. Maldonado graduated cum laude with a Bachelor's of Science in Legal Assistant Studies in 2001 from the New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn. As an undergraduate, she was recognized by Looseleaf Law Publications for her pro bono work with the divorce clinic of Brooklyn Bar Association's Volunteer Lawyers Project. Before attending law school, she worked for six years as a senior paralegal and assistant office manager at a workers' compensation practice. While there, she managed over 400 workers' compensation claims and over 200 death claims resulting from occupational exposure to asbestos, silica, and other industrial irritants.
Ms. Maldonado graduated cum laude from the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law in 2010. While there, she received a Dean's Fellow Mason Civil Rights Scholarship and served as an associate and then a senior editor with the UDC-DCSL Law Review. She acted as a teaching assistant for Civil Procedure and Evidence classes. She completed over 400 hours as a student attorney at the housing and consumer law clinic and completed over 450 hours in the HIV/AIDS legal clinic. She served as a law clerk for AARP, representing elderly tenants in landlord-tenant matters.
After law school, Ms. Maldonado obtained significant exposure to civil rights violations working as a contract attorney and investigator for the Division of Civil Rights, Disability Rights Section at the United States Department of Justice. She also worked as an associate attorney at different firms, focusing alternately on workers' compensation and employment litigation. This gave her an important understanding of various aspects of the laws that govern workplaces that she uses now in her current role at Phillips & Associates.