Important Questions and Answers About Employment Discrimination

Attorneys Answer Questions About Employment Discrimination

Thousands of people every year call on workplace discrimination lawyers to help file claims against their employers. In New York and across the United States, employees seek to enforce their rights to receive equal treatment, equal pay, and work in a place that is free from harassment.

When an employee faces unlawful workplace discrimination, there is recourse. He or she may formally complain to the designated office within the business, file a charge with an appropriate administrative agency and ultimately choose to file a lawsuit to try and recover monetary damages. At any step along the way, it can be helpful to consult with the experienced employment discrimination lawyers at Leeds Brown. You should know what your rights are and consider having professionals representing your interests and advocating on your behalf.

Leeds Brown has helped clients in the New York City metropolitan area achieve outstanding results in employment discrimination matters. Our knowledge and understanding of discrimination law and ability to aggressively fight for workers make us uniquely qualified to assist you to secure the fair outcome you deserve.

There are, of course, numerous ways an employee may experience discrimination in the workplace. Every case is unique, and we can’t assess yours until we hear the particular facts. You can call Leeds Brown at 1-800-585-4658 24/7 to speak with someone in our office about your particular matter.

Below, we will address some common questions about discrimination that employees often have.

What Laws Govern Employment Discrimination?

There are federal (national) laws that protect against employment discrimination including:

  • Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Equal Pay Act (amending the Fair Labor Standards Act)
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  • Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII

Local and state laws also make discrimination in the workplace unlawful including:

  • New York State Human Rights Law
  • New York City Human Rights Law

What Types of Workplace Discrimination are Unlawful?

Under federal and state laws it is illegal to discriminate against an employee or a job applicant because he or she is a member of a protected class. Protected classes include race, sex, religion, national origin, age, if over 40, or disability. Being pregnant is a classification that falls under sex.

State and local laws often have more protected classes than federal ones. New York State and New York City laws, for example, prohibit discrimination in the workplace because of characteristics like gender identity, status as a domestic violence victim, sexual orientation, age (if 18 or over in New York City), marital status, familial status, military status..

Federal anti-discrimination laws apply to various employers including private businesses with 15 or 20 employees, depending on the nature of the discrimination claim.

New York’s state and local laws apply to businesses with far fewer employees.

What is Unlawful Discrimination?

Discrimination occurs when an employer makes a decision based on a protected characteristic.

An employment decision based on a protected characteristic can occur at any stage of the employment process including:

  • Application
  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Promoting
  • Training
  • Compensating
  • Providing benefits
  • Assigning work

Discrimination can be intentional or the result of a neutral policy that disparately impacts one group of people. It can also include harassment, hostile work environment, and retaliation.

What Are Some Examples of Employment Discrimination?

The following situations might be indicative of unlawful discrimination in the workplace:

  • You are not hired for a supervising job because according to the hiring manager “women are unfit for supervisory positions.”
  • Your co-worker asks you to have sex with him and when you say no he continues to ask you on a daily basis, stopping you in the halls, calling you and showing up in your office.
  • Your department manager requests that you have sex with her and when you say no, she fires you or assigns you to a different department doing a job for which you are unqualified.
  • Your co-workers make fun of your religion daily, calling you names, threatening you and leaving inappropriate pictures and notes on your desk. You tell the Human Resources department, and they do nothing. You tell your manager, and she asks you to deal with it yourself or she will terminate your employment.
  • You ask for the day off to go to court because you must testify in a domestic violence case against your former spouse. Your employer says no even though the company routinely allows people time off for personal matters.
  • The company you have worked at for 40 years has stopped including you and other long time employees in technology training sessions.
  • You are a receptionist in a wheelchair and ask your employer to raise your desk a few inches so you may sit in your chair at your desk to perform your job, and the company refuses to make this accommodation.
  • Despite the overwhelming number of qualified African American employees, all promotions in your company go to less qualified Caucasians.
  • During your yearly review, which is always excellent, your supervisor tells you to expect a promotion in 6 months. After five months you inform the supervisor of your pregnancy. You lose your promotion because the employer assumes you would not want more responsibility now.
  • Your company has a policy that all employees must work at least one Saturday each month. This policy may disparately impact employees’ whose religion requires them to observe the Sabbath on Saturdays.

What if I Experience Workplace Discrimination?

Every workplace discrimination case has unique circumstances, so there is not one answer to this question. However, if you have suffered serious repercussions because of discrimination consider speaking with an employment law attorney right away. If your employer terminated your employment, withheld money, reassigned your work, transferred you, demoted you or gave you a bad review, consider calling Leeds Brown for guidance.

If you are experiencing harassment or a hostile work environment, there may be steps in your employee handbook that require you to proceed in a specific way. For instance, you may have to file a formal complaint with your supervisor or the human resources department.

If you are receiving threats or are afraid for your safety, you may wish to contact the police.

Should I File a Charge Against my Employer?

Contacting an experienced lawyer who has a proven track record of successfully handling workplace discrimination claims can help you determine the best way to proceed. A legal professional can help you decide whether to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the New York City Commission on Human Rights or the New York State Division of Human Rights. These administrative agencies that handle employment discrimination and harassment claims. Before filing, make sure you know how a particular agency may affect the outcome of your claim or your right to pursue justice in a court of law.

How Can Someone Prove Discrimination?

Keeping good records can help if you ever need to file a discrimination or harassment claim. Writing down details of comments or events when they happen including dates, times and individuals involved can be essential down the road.

Sometimes there is direct evidence of discrimination or harassment that makes it easier to prove your case. For example, you may have a clear record of someone telling jokes, making disparaging comments or texting or emailing slurs to you. You may have witnesses who saw you subjected to the discriminatory conduct. Indirect evidence may also be used to prove a case. For example, you may use your history of positive reviews to demonstrate that your termination was discriminatory and not based on your performance.

Contact Us

If you think you have been the victim of workplace discrimination, contact attorneys who have experience with employment law matters. At Leeds Brown we have helped clients in the New York metropolitan area file claims and civil lawsuits for all types of discrimination they have endured in the workplace. Call 1-800-585-4658 for a free case evaluation and to learn more about your legal rights. You may be entitled to receive monetary compensation or other remedies from your employer.