Attorneys Ease Confusion for Workers Filing Claims for Employment Discrimination in New York

Workers Filing Discrimination Claims get Help from Employment Attorneys who Understand the Laws and Procedures

It is essential that attorneys who represent victims of employment discrimination, like the ones at Leeds Brown Law, P.C. have a thorough understanding the options workers have when they decide to seek recourse. Employees on Long Island or in New York City who face discrimination in the workplace do have choices which can lead to confusion when in the midst of an emotional and stressful situation. Consulting with lawyers at Leeds Brown, who have decades of experience handling cases of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and other employment related matters can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

At the heart of the confusion are the different laws, agencies, rules and remedies that appear to apply to the same employment discrimination matters. For instance, there are federal and state agencies that handle claims of discrimination in the workplace. There are federal, state and even local laws that can overlap and differ, applying to various groups of people and places of business. The procedures and remedies can also vary calling into question the “correct” course of action in any given case. Do you file under State law? Federal? Why does it matter? Consulting legal counsel can help address these questions as they apply to your circumstances.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and New York State Human Rights Law

There are fundamental laws that prohibit discrimination against employees. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and are federal laws that apply to the entire nation. New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) is state law that applies to employees within New York State.

The federal laws listed above prohibit discrimination against employees because of sex, race/color, national origin, religion, pregnancy, age and disability. They bind employers across the country who have more than 15 or 20 employees, depending on the law.

NYSHRL prohibits discrimination based on the above characteristics but ALSO specifically prohibits discrimination because of, sexual orientation, familial status, status as a domestic violence victim, military status and criminal record. NYSHRL binds employers with four or more employees.

If you experience discrimination at your place of employment, deciding whether your claim falls under federal law, state law or both will likely be your first consideration. Because NYSHRL is broader than the federal legislation, if you are discriminated against for a reason only protected by state law, you may file a claim with the New York State Division of Human Rights (NYSDHR), or file a lawsuit in state court. If you work for an employer with fewer than 15 employees, Title VII does not apply, but if there are at least four employees, you may receive protection at the state level.

There are occasions when the laws overlap and employees receive protection from both. If that is the case, making a decision about filing a claim with the federal agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or sticking with the state.

Attorneys Help File Complaints with EEOC and NYSDHR

Under NYSHRL, there is a one-year time limit for filing a complaint with the NYSDHR. You can find a complaint form online at or speak to an attorney about the documentation you need to support your claim. You may not be required to file a complaint with the NYSDHR before seeking recourse in a court of law. If your employment discrimination occurred more than a year ago, you might still have the right to file a lawsuit in state court. However, if you were discriminated against by a municipal entity, such as a school district or government agency, you may have to file a preliminary notification of claim, for which the time limit may be as short as 90 days.

After receiving your complaint, the NYSDHR conducts an investigation. An investigation may include contacting your employer or co-workers to find out if there is evidence supporting your claim of discrimination or harassment. The NYSDHR usually completes its investigation within six months, and it either issues a probable cause determination or a dismissal. If the matter gets dismissed, the victim has a short time during which to file an appeal with the State Supreme Court. If there is a finding of probable cause, the case moves on to a public hearing which culminates in a finding of unlawful discrimination or no discrimination.

The EEOC works in a similar manner, but since the agency handles federal claims, it processes far more cases than the state does. Because of this larger caseload, investigations may take a long time. To pursue an employment discrimination claim under Title VII, you must first file a charge with the EEOC. The EEOC investigation is supposed to be complete within 180 days of filing the charge. Once you’ve filed with the EEOC you may be granted or may request, the right to file a lawsuit in federal court to pursue your discrimination claim.

Having employment law attorneys assisting you during the filing and investigation processes can be essential to ensuring your claim proceeds in a manner that protects your rights. It would be terrible to start a case only to lose your right to file a lawsuit down the road or lose your right to recover because of a poorly conducted investigation. Leeds Brown knows what it takes to succeed in employment discrimination cases and can provide you with the high-quality, professional representation that has helped many in your shoes.

Attorneys Help Employees Recover Compensation for Discrimination

If you determine that your case involves discriminatory conduct prohibited by both state and federal law, the decision about where to pursue justice may rest on more than just which agency you’d prefer to work with. The remedies available under state and federal law differ, and this can be relevant to the choice you make.

Damages available to an employee who succeeds in a workplace discrimination case brought under federal law include:

  • Back pay
  • Front pay
  • Other actual economic losses such as bonuses or medical expenses
  • Compensation for emotional distress and trauma
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Punitive damages

Under NYSHRL, the court cannot award punitive damages or attorney’s fees in a state case. Depending on the facts, punitive damages tend to be a large sum because they are meant to punish the employer, deterring future discrimination and harassment of workers. For this reason, a federal case may result in a more significant recovery.

Contact Us

Title VII, other federal laws, and NYSHRL make it clear that employment discrimination is unlawful. Victims come to us with stories of the emotional and financial toll it takes on them:

  • I was forced to leave my job because the sexual harassment became unbearable and no one would help me.
  • My boss threatened to fire me if I did not sleep with him.
  • My employer refused to make an accommodation for my disability.
  • My co-worker is a racist and leaves nasty messages on my voice mail every day.
  • I complained to my boss about a discriminatory decision he made and was told to get over it. Then I received a notice of transfer to a different office.

Do any of these sound familiar to you? If so, you have choices to make, and you do not have to make them alone.

Employment discrimination attorneys at Leeds Brown, representing clients in the entire New York metropolitan area, have the knowledge, skill, and dedication to helping you find the legal and procedural path that suits your particular set of facts. Whether you want to negotiate a settlement with your employer, proceed in state court or file a claim with the EEOC, we can patiently walk you through every step toward the outcome you deserve. We love our work, and it shows in our track record of success.

Contact Leeds Brown, employment discrimination lawyers who care about your rights. We can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-585-4658. Time may be of the essence so don’t wait. Call today.