LGBTQ Discrimination / Gay and Lesbian Discrimination in the Workplace
Being a member of the LGBTQ community in New York City is more than being Gay or Lesbian. It is related to your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and transgender status, New York law prohibits an employer from treating you unfairly or harassing you because of your status in the LGBTQ community. For over 25 years, the experienced attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group have helped employees and job applicants just like you receive the justice they deserve.
What Is LGBTQ Discrimination in New York City?
LGBTQ discrimination in New York City occurs when an employee or a job applicant is treated unfairly or harassed because of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or transgender status or association with anyone in the LGBTQ community. The discriminatory behavior can come from an employer, CEO, supervisor or manager, co-worker, client or customer, vendor, or other non-employee. Even if you are offended by comments made towards someone else or about someone else, if you make it clear that type of language and treatment is offensive, you may be a victim of LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace.
There are several laws in New York City that are meant to protect employees from LGBTQ or Gay and Lesbian discrimination in the workplace. New York has some of the most stringent laws protecting members of the LGBTQ community and has set a precedent for other laws throughout the country.
The federal law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not expressly protect members of the LGBTQ community from workplace discrimination, however, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has made it clear that the intention is to cover anything related to gender or sex as an act of sex discrimination. Therefore, if you wish to file a claim in federal court, as of today, you may file it under a Title VII claim if you are employed by a company with 15 or more employees.
The New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law prohibits employers with 4 or more employees from discriminating against anyone in the LGBTQ community.
The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) in New York City protects employees from being discriminated against based on their sexual orientation. This is limited to whether they are homosexual, heterosexual, or bi-sexual, however, it also covers transgender individuals if they are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.
In order to prove LGBTQ discrimination in your workplace, you must produce evidence to the court. This evidence can be direct, disparate, or policy.
- Direct Evidence. If your boss tells you that you are being treated a certain way because you are part of the LGBTQ community, then you have direct evidence of discrimination. Direct evidence, also known as the “smoking gun,” can be verbal or written. It can be said directly to you or can be said or written to another person about you.
- Disparate Evidence. Disparate evidence shows a pattern or a culture within the workplace. It often is more subtle than direct evidence, but it can be pieced together to show that you are being discriminated against because you are LGBTQ. Many times, disparate evidence shows that numerous employees have faced the same discrimination you face.
- Policy Evidence. Sometimes a company has a policy that, but its very nature, is discriminatory. This policy can be used as evidence that you faced LGBTQ discrimination in your workplace.
LGBTQ discrimination can be very subtle, like not getting a promotion or not being put on an assignment. It can also be blatantly obvious like making crude jokes or telling someone they are not wanted in the workplace. Here are some examples of LGBTQ discrimination as it may appear in your New York City workplace:
- A policy that insists employees only use the bathroom of their gender at birth
- Refusing to use a person’s preferred pronouns when speaking to or about them
- Your co-worker posts comics in his workspace that are homophobic, and you express that you are offended
- You are asked whether you are Gay or a Lesbian at your job interview
- Your supervisor refuses to offer your same-sex spouse benefits even though the company policy says married employees can choose to cover their spouse on the health insurance
- You are fired because you chose to come out of the closet at work
- You are denied the opportunity to work on a project because the client does not want anyone who is LGBTQ to work on her projects, no matter how qualified they may be
- You are the most qualified employee for a promotion, but you are passed over because you identify as non-binary
- Your co-workers make fun of your lifestyle every chance they get, even though you have complained to HR
- Your CEO fires you because you complained to HR about being harassed for your LGBTQ status
- You are forced to wear gender-specific uniforms that go against your gender identity
- You are demoted when you tell your employer that your spouse is transgender
If you want to file a Title VII claim, you must file with the EEOC. The time limit to file with eh EEOC is 300 days from the date of the last incident of discrimination. The EEOC will investigate the claim and issue a Right to Sue letter is the claim fits the guidelines of the law.
If you want to file a claim under the New York State Human Rights Law or the New York City Human Rights Law, you can choose to file a claim with the New York State Division of Human Rights or the New York City Division of Human Rights within 1 year of the date of the last incident of discrimination. However, you may choose to file a complaint directly with the court, in which case you have 3 years to file the complaint.
If you are the victim of LGBTQ discrimination in your New York City workplace, the courts will offer some relief for the trauma and hardships you have endured. Some of these remedies may include, but are not limited to:
- Reinstatement of employment and/or benefits
- Reimbursement of benefit premiums
- Reimbursement of medical and other expenses
- Reassignment or termination of the person responsible for the discriminatory actions
- Reviewing and revamping company policies
- Attorney’s fees
- Back pay
- Future pay
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Punitive damages
When you file an LGBTQ discrimination lawsuit in New York City, it may last anywhere from 4 to 6 months to a year or longer, depending on the details of your case. If your employer is willing to negotiate a fair settlement with you before going to trial, the case may only last 4 to 6 months. However, if you must go to trial, you may need 8 months to a year or longer to prepare for trial. The trial may then last anywhere from a few days to several weeks or longer until a judgment is entered by the court.
As you contemplate your next move, there are a few things you should do to help move your case along.
- Contact an experienced LGBTQ/ Gay and Lesbian discrimination attorney immediately.
- If you are still employed, do not quit your job without first consulting with your attorney.
- If your company has an HR department, file a complaint for discrimination in writing.
- If your company has an LGBTQ discrimination policy, follow it.
- Gather evidence. Document everything, including what occurred, who was involved, where and when it occurred, and any witnesses.
- Do not waste time. Your time to file a complaint is limited. Do not wait until it is too late.
Contact Our Experienced New York City LGBTQ Discrimination Attorneys for Your Free Consultation
You have a right to work in an environment that will not harass you or discriminate against you because you are part of the LGBTQ community. If you are the victim of LGBTQ discrimination in New York City, the experienced attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group (one of FindLaw’s top employment discrimination firms) can help. We have recovered over $165,000.000 for our clients and we want to help you. Contact us today at (212) 587-0760 for a free consultation. We do not collect any money until you win your case.
Different Types of Workplace Discrimination Cases We Handle:
- Race Discrimination
- Color Discrimination
- National Origin Discrimination
- Religion Discrimination
- Age (over 40) Discrimination
- Disability Discrimination
- Pregnancy Discrimination
- Gender or Sex Discrimination
- Sexual Orientation Discrimination
- Genetic Information Discrimination
- Equal Pay/Compensation Discrimination
- Ethnic Discrimination
- Hair Discrimination