New York City’s Human Rights Law — One of the Most Protective in the Nation

New York City has consistently remained a diverse, progressive place to live and work. The Human Rights Law of the City of New York was enacted in 1965 to protect this important aspect of the city. The landmark Human Rights Law strengthened prior laws that addressed discrimination in the workplace, education, housing and public accommodation. Several amendments have been made throughout the years, including the latest passed in 2013 that forbids discrimination based on employment status.

The NYC Human Rights Law protects individuals from discrimination in the workplace based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Creed
  • National origin
  • Alienage or citizenship status
  • Gender
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marital status and partnership status
  • Disability
  • Age
  • Employment status
  • Arrest or conviction record
  • Status as the victim of domestic violence, stalking or other sex offense

Employers are not permitted to discriminate when making employment-related decisions regarding the following:

  • Hiring
  • Wages
  • Benefits
  • Promotions
  • Performance reviews
  • Work assignments or shifts
  • Disciplinary actions
  • Firing and layoffs

In addition, employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious practices and faith — for example, by allowing employees to wear religious clothing and to observe religious holidays.

Other provisions of the law protect employees from sexual harassment — considered a form of gender discrimination — and from retaliation against employees who file grievances.

The New York City Commission on Human Rights investigates and prosecutes claims of NYC Human Rights Law violations. However, a complainant is not allowed to file a claim with the NYC commission on Human Rights if the person has already filed the same claim with the New York State Division of Human Rights, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or a court of law.

You only have one year from the last act of discrimination to file your complaint with the NYC Commission on Human Rights, so do not delay in seeking legal advice. An experienced New York City employment lawyer can also evaluate whether you are likely to win more favorable results if you file with a city, state or federal agency and can take the steps necessary to help you exercise your rights.

 

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