New York City Civil Rights Attorneys Answer Important Questions

New York City civil rights attorneys help people recover damages when someone treats them in a discriminatory manner. At Leeds Brown, our attorneys have a full range of experience with every type of civil rights violation. We can skillfully and compassionately guide you through the process of filing an administrative charge and a lawsuit if you choose. We have a proven track record of obtaining successful outcomes for our clients.

While every civil rights matter is different and has unique circumstances, we find that may people have some basic questions about civil rights in general and how they relate to employment practices, in particular. Below are some common questions and their answers. For more information, please contact Leeds Brown.

What are New York City Civil Rights?

Civil rights sometimes refer to certain constitutionally bestowed rights such as the rights to free speech and due process under the law.

Your civil rights also include the rights to be treated equally and to be free from discrimination in certain settings and based on legally protected characteristics. Civil rights relate to the rights to be free from discrimination in areas such as education, employment, banking, and housing.

What is a Protected Class?

A “protected class” is the name given to the people who possess one or more legally protected characteristics.

What are Legally Protected Characteristics?

Legally protected characteristics may include things such as:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Pregnancy
  • Genetic Information

In some places, including New York City, legally protected characteristics may include:

  • Gender identity
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Familial Status
  • Caregiver status
  • Military status
  • Domestic violence victim status

If you fall into one of these categories, you have the right to receive equal treatment and be free from discrimination in various circumstances including the making of employment decisions.

What are the Laws that Protect the Civil Rights of Employees?

Some Federal laws that govern employment discrimination are;

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1991
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • The Equal Pay Act of 1963
  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
  • The Older Workers Benefits Protection Act

New York State and New York City civil rights and antidiscrimination statutes are in the New York State Human Rights Laws (NYSHRL) and New York City Human Rights Laws (NYCHRL).

What are Discriminatory Employment Practices?

Discrimination may occur when an employer takes into account one of the protected characteristics when making an employment-related decision. It is unlawful to discriminate in ANY aspect of employment including:

  • Recruiting and advertising
  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Granting promotions
  • Testing
  • Training
  • Compensating
  • Retirement packages
  • Providing benefits
  • Transferring
  • Granting leave
  • Assigning work or territories
  • Classifying workers
  • Using building/office facilities

Is Harassment the Same as Discrimination?

Harassment based on one of the protected characteristics is discrimination. Discrimination can arise from one single incident. Harassment is discrimination when it is typically part of a pattern of behavior or so pervasive as to make an employee feel uncomfortable, unsafe or like they are in a hostile environment. For example, the repeated telling of racially or sexually charged joke may be harassment.

Can an Employer Fire Someone for Complaining About Discrimination?

Not legally. It is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee for filing a discrimination charge, participating in a discrimination investigation or opposing workplace discrimination. An employer may not demote, transfer, terminate or otherwise retaliate against a worker trying to enforce or protect their civil rights.

Do Discrimination Laws Apply to All Employers?

No. Federal discrimination laws apply to businesses that have 15 or more employees. Almost all New York State and New York City discrimination laws apply to businesses that have 4 or more employees. New York protects more workers than the federal laws do because they prohibit discrimination by a greater number of employers.

If you work for a business with less than 15 employees but at least 4, New York employment discrimination laws may be the only ones that protect you.

What is a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification?

A bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) is often a defense used by an employer in a discrimination case. A BFOQ exists when there is a specific characteristic that someone must possess to perform the job. Therefore, if an employer makes a decision based on that characteristic, even if it is a protected one, the decision is justified.

For example, an employer may argue that age is a BFOQ for a job as a firefighter and that it is, therefore, okay to make a hiring or firing decision based on age.

What is a Reasonable Accommodation?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act and NYHRL, an employer must make a reasonable accommodation for a qualified individual with a disability. The employee must be qualified and able to perform the job and must have a disability as defined by the ADA or NYHRL. A reasonable accommodation is one that will not impose an undue hardship on the employer’s business.

What are the Options if an Individual’s Civil Rights are Violated?

There is no simple answer to this question because there are different options depending on the course of action an individual may choose to take. Speaking to a New York City civil rights attorney like the ones at Leeds Brown can be helpful in making this decision.

To enforce one’s rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, for example, an individual must first file an administrative charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is the federal agency that oversees enforcement of employment discrimination laws. For you to proceed with a lawsuit, the EEOC must grant you a right to sue letter.

Of course, an individual may wish to or need to proceed under New York State or New York City law and doing this requires the filing of charges and lawsuits with different agencies and courts.

There are also time limits to consider which may restrict one’s options.

Contact New York City Civil Rights Attorneys to Enforce your Rights to Equal Treatment and a Discrimination-Free Workplace

Our civil rights are the foundation of our society. The constitution guarantees fundamental rights. We hold freedom of religion and expression equality, the right to a trial by a jury, and due process under the law to be of utmost importance. Americans fought hard for laws making discrimination illegal and it is important to make sure that we enforce them.

New York City civil rights attorneys at Leeds Brown takes pride in protecting the interests of individuals who have experienced civil rights violations, especially in the workplace. We believe in holding employers accountable for discriminatory behaviors and decisions that have adverse effects on employees.

Our experience with discrimination cases puts us in the position to guide you through your choices, help you make an informed decision, and move you along through the process of recovering damages related to your discrimination claim. Whether you wish to get reinstated to your job, recover lost pay or damages for emotional trauma, Leeds Brown can help.

You can reach someone at our office 24/7 to discuss your civil rights matter. Call New York City civil rights attorneys at 1-800-585-4658 today for a free case evaluation.