Merrick (Rick) Rossein, Professor, served as the Acting Dean of CUNY Law School in 1994-95, teaches the Equality and Justice Practice Clinic, courses on employment discrimination, employment law, and trial practice. He earned a B.A. from Alfred University and an M.P.A. from Wagner School of Public Policy, New York University before joining the founding class of Antioch Law School. He published a four-volume treatise, Employment Discrimination Law and Litigation (Thomson Reuters West), Employment Law Desk Book for Human Resource Professionals, and was a Contributing Editor for ADR in Employment Law (ABA/Bloomberg) along with many other publications. He is a Fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. He was named Scholar-in-Residence (2007) (inaugural scholar) by the ABA Section on Labor and Employment Law, ADR Committee. He has trained recently-appointed U.S. federal judges on employment discrimination law for the National Judicial Center in Washington, D.C.

His extensive background in civil rights and employment law includes work at the National Employment Law Project (Director of Training), Queens Legal Services, Employment Law Unit (Director), New York City Mayor’s Office, Bureau of Labor Services (Acting Director), and New York City Commission on Human Rights where he worked for Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, then Chair.

In addition, he litigated numerous race, sex, age, LGBTQIA+ and disability discrimination cases, including the landmark sexual harassment case of EEOC v. Sage Realty Corporation. Prior to filing in federal district court, this case was the first hostile environment sexual harassment case heard and decided by the full U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In another case of first impression, Leibovitz v. New York City Transit Authority, U.S. District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein wrote: “Counsel [Rossein] …is an extraordinarily able attorney specializing in discrimination litigation. *** Counsel was dealing with a difficult area in this field. He showed extraordinary skill.” He litigated Bruneau v. South Kortright Central School District one of the first school peer-to-peer sex harassment cases under title IX of the 1972 Educational amendments, which received widespread media attention nationally and internationally. Professor Rossein’s article Sex Discrimination and the Sexually Charged Work Environment, New York University Review of Law and Social Change, (1979) was one of the first law review articles to address the concept of a sexually hostile work environment (cited by the first NYS Court decision on sexual harassment, Rudow v. New York City Commission on Human Rights).

In 2021 he  was invited by the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division to serve as an expert to assist in implementing a federal court Consent Decree in a sexual harassment and gender discrimination case. Professor Rossein served in 2018 on an expert panel to the World Bank Group (WBG) (Washington D.C.) in conducting a comprehensive review its policies, procedures, protocols and practices to prevent and address instances of sexual harassment, sexual exploitation and abuse

He was appointed by Mayor David N. Dinkins to a four-year term as Commissioner of the City of New York Equal Employment Practices Commission, by Governor Mario Cuomo to serve on his Task Force on Sexual Harassment  and was appointed by Chair Congresswoman Bella Abzug as a Member of the City of New York Commission on Woman Sexual Harassment Task Force.

Professor Rossein was selected and served as the Independent EEO Consultant based on a U.S. District Court decision and remedial order in U.S. and the Vulcan Society v. the City of New York. The decision found that the New York City Fire Department’s hiring practices discriminated based on race and ordered major reforms, which included that a consultant develop compliance reforms along with the Court Monitor and the City. Prof. Rossein was responsible for developing a compliance program to ensure that the FDNY and the City address and eliminate discriminatory hiring practices based on race and build a diverse and inclusive firefighting workforce.

Professor Rossein was engaged by the Assembly of the State of New York to develop a harassment policy and procedure and training program and was appointed by the Standing Committee on Ethics as the independent neutral investigator counsel to investigate claims of harassment and discrimination by Members of the Assembly. He conducted an examination for the City and County of San Francisco to develop an effective sexual harassment prevention program and investigated policies and practices at various City agencies and his proposal on sexual harassment policy was enacted into statute. He consulted with the Maryland House of Delegates and the Women’s Caucus in 2017-2018 on a bill that was enacted in to law that focused on independent investigations in sexual harassment complaints. The law was in large part modeled after the NYS Assembly policy drafted by Professor Rossein.

He consulted with the Women’s Law Center in Cape Town South Africa to assist in developing laws and policies concerning gender equality and sexual harassment. Consulted with the Greater London Council in England to develop a governmental agency to combat racial discrimination. As a consultant he drafted the City of New York’s first affirmative action plan.

Professor Rossein served as attorney/advisor to a female law clerk (former student) in a disciplinary case In re Subryan before the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct (ACJC) against a New Jersey State Court Judge who sexually harassed her. The ACJC found a violation of the Canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The New Jersey Supreme Court increased the discipline against the judge to a suspension without pay after ACJC recommended censure.

He serves as an arbitrator and mediator on the National Employment, Commercial, and International Panels of the American Arbitration Association. He was retained as an expert on age discrimination law before the London Court of Arbitration, England in 2015.  In 2021 he served as an expert before a Maryland state court on the issue of arbitrator disclosures. His law review article (with Jennifer Hope) Disclosure and Disqualification Standards for Neutral Arbitrators: How Far to Cast the Net and What is Sufficient to Vacate Award was cited by the Delaware Supreme Court among other courts.  He served on the U.S. EEOC Mediation Panel.

Professor Rossein is a member of the ABA Section on Labor and Employment, Equal Employment Opportunity and ADR Committees and the New York State Bar Association Section on Labor and Employment, where he served as Secretary and on the Executive Committee.

Headshot of Merrick Rossein

Why I Teach at CUNY Law

“I teach at CUNY Law School because of the extraordinary students and faculty who pursue excellence in their lawyering, working toward equality and fairness in the law and our society.”