Protecting Rights of Employees Regardless of Sexual Orientation

New York State and New York City have some of the most comprehensive laws protecting employees from gender and sexual orientation discrimination. There are also federal laws that make it unlawful to discriminate based on race, religion, national origin, gender, age and more.

But New York goes even further to protect its residents and workforce. New York Human Rights Law applies to more businesses than federal laws do and includes several additional categories of protected classes. If you are working in this state, you should understand your right to receive equal treatment and work in a safe environment free from discrimination.

Gender discrimination comes in many shapes and sizes. When an employer bases an employment decision on gender, it is discrimination. For example, you do not get a promotion because you are a woman or you do not get invited to important team planning meetings because they are for women only.

NY Prohibits Employers from Discriminating Because of Sexual Orientation

In New York, it is also unlawful to discriminate against an employee because of the individual’s sexual orientation. In 2003, the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) added the term “sexual orientation” to the list of specifically protected characteristics in various laws, including the Human Rights Law, the Civil Rights Law, and the Education Law. Cases involving sexual orientation and gender discrimination often overlap.

Gender discrimination lawyers at Leeds Brown know that despite all of the well-meaning legislation, sexual orientation discrimination still occurs. Our job is to make sure that if you are a victim of employment discrimination, you know your options. When sexual orientation discrimination overlaps with gender discrimination, it is important to know your rights and remedies under all applicable laws.

You may be able to file a claim or lawsuit against your employer and receive monetary damages, reinstatement or promotion. Leeds Brown can assist you throughout the entire process from filing out the appropriate paperwork to negotiating a settlement all the way through a trial if that’s what is in your best interests. Our employment discrimination professionals have the skill and tenacity to build your case and move it forward in a way that can ensure you get the results you deserve.

Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA)

SONDA states that it is unlawful to discriminate “on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, credit, and the exercise of civil rights.”

Sexual orientation in the context of SONDA refers to “heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or asexuality, whether actual or perceived.” Therefore, SONDA protects victims who face discrimination because of their true sexual orientation or because the perpetrator believes they are of a particular sexual orientation. Like all employment discrimination, the prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation applies to all aspects of the employment process. Some examples of behaviors that might violate SONDA are:

  • A job applicant mentions he is a homosexual in an interview and does not get the job because the interviewer does not like homosexuals
  • An interviewer thinks a job applicant is homosexual and does not hire him.
  • An employee is regularly made fun of at work by co-workers because she is bisexual
  • Co-workers make derogatory comments to an employee because he or she “acts” like a homosexual
  • A supervisor refuses to give a qualified worker a promotion because she is a lesbian
  • Your employer asks you not to bring your same-gender spouse to a work event, but heterosexual couples are allowed.
  • A manager treats you differently after learning of your sexual orientation
  • Someone says that you are not “feminine enough” or “manly enough” for a position

Sexual Orientation Discrimination Attorneys File Claims on Behalf of Victims Throughout NY

If you have experienced sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace, it is important to speak with lawyers who understand the deadlines and administrative rules to follow. For example, you have a choice to do one of two things:

  1. File a discrimination charge with the New York State Division of Human Rights or a local human rights agency within one year of the most recent discriminatory act
  2. File a complaint directly in State court within three years of the most recent discriminatory act

Each option has different deadlines, processes and consequences for the claimant. Also, if your case falls under various state laws or even a federal anti-discrimination statute, that may change the entire nature of your claim. NYC also has laws that protect workers from sexual orientation discrimination. Much of your decision on how to proceed in a sexual orientation discrimination or sex discrimination claim can depend on the facts of your specific case, the damages you have experienced and the results you are hoping to achieve.

Contact Us

Speak to a New York gender discrimination attorney at Leeds Brown to find out more about your rights under various anti-discrimination laws including SONDA. You may be entitled to back pay, money for pain and suffering, punitive damages and benefits. Your employer may be required to reinstate you or provide you with a promotion.

Our sex discrimination attorneys can guide you through the collaborative process of choosing a course of action and formulating a plan to achieve your goals. No one should have to endure workplace discrimination of any kind, and Leeds Brown, New York’s leading employment discrimination firm, is here to make sure that if you get treated in an unlawful manner, you receive the fair compensation you deserve.

Call Leeds Brown today for a free consultation. Time may be of the essence so don’t wait. You can reach someone at our New York office twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week at 1-800-585-4658.


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