Any person can face discrimination in the workplace—even teachers. Teachers have the same rights as other professions, but many face pressures, such as age, race, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, pregnancy, and academic freedom. Even in New York, many teachers have filed discrimination suits in the past decade over issues such as race, age, sexual orientation and marital status. Many teachers are discriminated against for being the only one of a certain category, such as the only teacher in the school who is black, gay, or over the age of 50.
Teachers face a lot of pressure. Educating children is not an easy task, and a teacher should not have to worry about the possibility of discrimination. A person’s race, gender, age, or disability is not something he or she can control and that person should not be penalized for it.
How Tenure can Lead to Discrimination
Teachers are limited in their academic freedom. Teachers typically cannot promote personal, religious, or political agendas in the classroom. The only exception would be if the teacher is tenured. Tenure typically applies to college professors and allows them an indefinite teaching position. The only reasons a tenured teacher could be terminated would be budget issues or program discontinuation.
Tenure is considered to be important. It protects academic freedom, which is crucial for teachers who teach and conduct research in higher education. Many faculty members publish their research findings in publications, so they need to have protections in terms of freedom of speech in order to transmit knowledge.
Tenure, however, is becoming less common. Currently, just 21% of teachers in the United States are tenured.
Tenure can sometimes lead to discrimination in that tenured faculty are not forced to retire at a certain age. The school cannot terminate these teachers, so they may instead strain educational resources. These teachers are often highly paid and contributing less and less as they get older. This can result in age discrimination, since younger, more capable teachers cannot get a teaching job. This can also cause imbalance with academic programs.
Can a Union Help?
If you are facing discrimination, your teachers’ union may be able to help. Unions ensure employees work in safe conditions and protects their rights. A union can advocate for your rights and help you understand your options if you feel you have not been treated properly. Your union representative can help you write a complaint and present it to your employer.
If that does not work, you can file a complaint at the local level, with the New York Division of Human Rights (DHR). If you live in New York City, you can also file a discrimination claim with the New York City Commission on Human Rights (CHR). You can also file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or contact a lawyer.
Contact a New York Employee Discrimination Lawyer
Teachers should be hired based on their experience, capabilities, and ability to provide students with a solid education. Age, race, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, religion, and disability should not be factors.
If you are a teacher who has faced discrimination by a school and your union has been unable to help, contact the attorneys at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. We are knowledgeable of all the state and federal laws that apply and can protect your rights and livelihood. Call our office at (347) 464-8694 to schedule a free consultation.