Lawsuit Claiming Broken Promises at Atlantic Yards to Proceed in Federal Court

  • June 18, 2012

United States District Judge John Gleeson rejected a motion to dismiss a case handled by ECBAWM lawyers Matthew Brinckerhoff and Melissa Gardner and co-counsel South Brooklyn Legal Services on behalf of Brooklyn residents who participated in a sham job training program run by the Atlantic Yards developers and Brooklyn United for Innovative Development (BUILD). Defendants promised participants union cards and construction jobs for completing the program, but never delivered on those promises. The decision affirms that the plaintiffs properly stated claims for unpaid wages for their work in the program under federal and state labor laws against the defendants, including Bruce Ratner, head of Forest City Ratner Companies, who plaintiffs allege jointly operated the program. The court also held that the defendants may have engaged in deceptive acts or practices in violation of the New York General Business Law. In response to the defendants’ argument that the developers could not be expected to deliver on promises of union jobs, Judge Gleeson stated: “I cannot conclude…that it was unreasonable, as a matter of law, for the Plaintiffs to rely on promises of union membership and jobs made to a small number of…participants by a major real estate enterprise that would employ tens of thousands of union workers.”