Employment Discrimination in New York City is prohibited by law. When an employer, CEO, supervisor or manager, co-worker, client, associate, or non-employee of a company harasses or treats an employee or job applicant unfairly due to the person’s race, religion, color, national origin, age, gender, pregnancy, military status, or citizenship and immigration status, to name a few protected classes, they are breaking the law through employment discrimination. For the past 25 years, the attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group in New York City have been helping victims of workplace discrimination get the justice they so rightly deserve.
What is Employment Discrimination in New York City?
Employment discrimination is when an employee or job applicant is treated differently or subjected to harassing comments or conduct based on some protected characteristics, like age or race. Employment discrimination can come from a CEO, fellow employee, supervisor or manager, client or customer, or a non-employee of a company. Protected characteristics or protected classes include:
- National Origin
- Age (over 40)
- Sexual Orientation
- Genetic Information
- Equal Pay/Compensation
- Military Status
There are several laws that help protect employees and job applicants from employment discrimination in New York City. The most commonly known federal law is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal for an employer, fellow worker or co-worker, supervisor or manager, or non-employee, such as a client or vendor, to treat an employee or job applicant unfairly or harass the individual because he or she is a member of the protected classes listed above.
Under federal laws, there are several other laws that help protect employees and job applicants from specific types of workplace harassment, including, but not limited to:
- U.S. Code §1981
- Fair Labor Standards Act
- The Equal Pay Act
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
- The Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
- The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008
- US Equality Act of 2015
The New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law also protect employees and job applicants from any type of employment discrimination in New York City.
Proving workplace discrimination can be difficult. It is always helpful to have proof of the discrimination or harassment. This usually comes in the form of text messages, e-mails, videos, or recordings. There are three different forms of evidence available to prove workplace employment discrimination, no matter the nature of the action: Direct evidence, Disparate evidence, and policy evidence:
1. Direct Evidence. Direct evidence is the “smoking gun.” This is the test, email, verbal, or written confession that you were not treated fairly because of your status as a member of a protected class. For example, if a supervisor emails your co-worker telling him or her to ignore your request to work on a project because you are “just a woman who should be cooking instead of working” and accidentally copies you on the email, that would be direct evidence that you were the victim of employment discrimination.
2. Disparate Evidence. This is a bit more common but less obvious. Disparate evidence is a series of actions that can show a culture of employment discrimination. These are comments or actions that often include the member of the protected class being passed over or harassed at work because he or she is a member of that class. For instance, a disabled employee is denied full-time work so he or she cannot obtain benefits. Yet other, able-bodied employees working the same positions are given full-time work and are able to receive benefits. This is an example of disparate evidence.
3. Policy Evidence. Policy evidence can be very powerful in the courtroom. It is a policy that is discriminatory against a certain group of people. Many employers believe the policy will protect them and show the discriminatory behavior is needed to comply with working conditions that are mandated through company policy. This could not be further from the truth. Company policy is not allowed to be discriminatory.
Employment discrimination in New York City happens more often than most people would think, let alone what would be considered acceptable. It can happen to people of all races, religions, nationalities, genders, sexual orientations, and more. Remember, protected classes of people in the workplace in New York include religion, race, national origin, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, age, military status, color, citizenship, pregnancy, and disabilities. Some examples of employment discrimination in New York include:
• Wrongful termination because someone refused sexual advances
• Forced retirement for anyone over age 40
• Retaliation for an employer who reported a race issue to HR
• Unwanted sexual advances
• Refusal to give a promotion to an employee who is clearly qualified because of his or her race
• Refusal to allow an employee the opportunity to work on a project because of his or her color
• Refusing a Muslim employee the right to pray throughout the day
• Making jokes about a co-worker’s foreign accent
• Making derogatory comments towards an employee due to his or her sexual orientation
• Refusing to hire a job applicant because he or she is not a citizen, but has the right to work
• Calling ICE on an employee in retaliation
• Sexism in the workplace
• Terminating an employee because he or she is part of the national reserve
• Refusing to give a raise to an employee because of his or her disability, even though the employee is taking on additional work
• Refusing to hire a job applicant because she is pregnant
• Refusing the use of public accommodations to a job applicant because of his or her race
• Using racial slurs in the office
Under Title VII, employees must file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days of the initial act of discrimination. Additionally, workplace retaliation has the same 300-day statute of limitations under the law. For claims of race discrimination, federal law 42 U.S.C. §1981 has a 4-year statute of limitations.
The NY CHR is governed by the New York Commission of Human Rights, which provides a time limit of 1 year from the date of the last incident of discrimination to file a claim, unless the claim is for sexual harassment. IF the claim is for sexual harassment in the workplace, the victim has 3 years to file a claim.
There are many individual federal laws to protect the different rights of employees and job applicants, as mentioned above. Each one allows a different time limit to file a claim for employment discrimination. For instance, Section 1981 allows 4 years from the date of the last incident of race discrimination to file a claim. Therefore, it is essential to know your rights and work with an attorney that can help you navigate the system.
It makes sense to be concerned about the relief available through the courts if you are going to take the time to file a claim in court for employment discrimination. The courts in New York are very empathetic to victims of employment discrimination in the workplace. Some of the remedies may include:
• Reinstatement of employment
• Reinstatement of benefits
• Reimbursement of benefit premiums
• Reimbursement of medical bills and other related expenses
• Reimbursement of back pay
• Future Pay
• Attorney’s fees
• Pain and suffering
• Emotional Distress
• Punitive Damages. These damages are meant to “punish” the employer and ensure the company does not allow this type of behavior to continue. The damages are based on, in part, the gross profits of the company, the nature of the incident, and whether this is a first offense.
Lawsuits are never cut and dry. A definitive timeline does not exist and to say there is one would be a disservice to everyone involved. That being said, on average, a lawsuit for employment discrimination in New York City can last anywhere from 4 to 6 months to 1 to 2 years or longer.
If the employer is willing to negotiate a settlement before trial and provides a fair offer, your lawsuit may settle within 4 to 6 months. However, if the employer does not offer a fair settlement, you may need to go to trial, which can last one year or longer.
As you wait to file your claim, there are a few things you should do immediately to help your case along.
1. Contact an employment discrimination attorney in New York City immediately.
2. If you are still employed, do not quit. This can hurt your case.
3. If your company has an HR department, file a complaint for the discrimination.
4. If your company has a policy or procedure in place to handle workplace discrimination, follow it. This will help your case.
5. Gather evidence. Document every incident, what occurred, who was involved, when it happened, and who may have witnessed it.
No employee or job applicant should ever have to be subjected to employment discrimination in the hiring, firing, promotions, training, compensation, benefits or any other aspect of employment decisions. If you are the victim of workplace employment discrimination in New York City, the experienced attorneys at Derek Smith Law Group can help. Contact us at (212) 587-0760 for a free consultation. We do not collect any money until you win your case.