New York City employers are legally obligated to maintain a safe, discrimination free environment for their employees. In fact, the New York City Human Rights Law explicitly prohibits many different types of discrimination in the workplace. At Ricotta & Marks, P.C., we believe that every individual should be treated with respect and dignity in the workplace. For this reason, we are fierce advocates for victims of workplace discrimination. If you or a loved one has been subjected to discrimination in the workplace, the New York City employment lawyers at Ricotta & Marks can, and will, fight for your rights. You are not alone. Call us today at 347-321-8895 to learn more about your options and speak with an experienced attorney.
What Is Employment Discrimination?
Discrimination, broadly, refers to the act of treating another person, or group of people, unjustly or with prejudice. It is the unfair treatment of others solely because they possess certain characteristics or belong to certain groups. Discrimination can be committed on the basis of several characteristics, including:
In the employment context, discrimination manifests as biased, preferential, or otherwise unjust treatment specifically within the workplace. It is important to note that employment discrimination can occur between individuals of any position within the workplace. For instance, managers can discriminate against employees, coworkers can discriminate against each other, and hiring agents can discriminate against job applicants.
In addition to unfair treatment on the basis of those protected categories, the laws enforced by the EEOC prohibit the following practices in the workplace:
- Harassment by bosses, coworkers, or others in the workplace on the basis of any of the aforementioned protected categories. Harassment is any repeated and unwanted behavior that perpetuates a feeling of unsafety and emotional distress within the workplace.
- Denial of reasonable workplace changes that you require due to religious beliefs, pregnancy, or disability.
- Improper questioning regarding your genetic or medical information or, alternatively, the improper disclosure of such information.
- Retaliation due to your filing of a complaint or involvement in a workplace discrimination investigation
It is clear that employment discrimination can take many forms, all of which can result in serious physical, financial, mental or emotional distress. Ricotta & Marks, P.C. NYC employment lawyers have experience representing clients who have experienced all forms of discrimination, and understand how to navigate the intricacies of even the most complicated or pervasive of cases.
Sexual harassment involves unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or any other verbal or physical harassment that is sexual in nature. Such behavior is considered illegal under federal, state, and city law. Recent changes to the New York State Human Rights Law were made to protect independent contractors and other nonemployees.
As such, any individual who is subjected to inappropriate advances from an employer, employee, or coworker is able to file a claim with the EEOC or the New York State Division of Human Rights. In some situations, filing a lawsuit is an ideal option. NYC employment lawyers can help navigate this issue, and ensure a victim’s legal rights remain protected.
Gender or Sex Discrimination
Gender and sex discrimination refers to the practice of treating an individual, or group of people, unfairly on the basis of their sex or gender. While “sex” and “gender” carry two distinct meanings, federal legislation regarding gender and gender expression are quite weak. Recent case law, however, interprets the prohibition of sex discrimination to also include discrimination based on gender identity and expression. New York State and City Laws offer stronger protection.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sex discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition is also expressly prohibited. On the state level, New York State makes it illegal to discriminate based on gender identity or transgender status. This is a valuable added protection for New York City residents.
On the federal level, under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), it is illegal for employers to discriminate against persons aged 40 or older. It should be noted that discrimination can occur between two people who are both aged 40 or older. In practice, this can look like a manager refusing to provide a job referral on the same basis as they would to employees of other age groups, even if the manager is also aged 40 or above.
New York State offers added legal protections, protecting any individual 18 or over from age discrimination. This means that it is illegal for an employer to engage in any of the following behaviors:
- Refusing to hire an individual based on age
- Firing an employee based on age
- Providing different terms of employment, including salary, based on age
- Denying entrance into an apprenticeship program because of age
- Establishing seniority benefits based on age rather than length of employment
- Offering different benefits, memberships, or services on the basis of age
If any of the following are shown to be true, an age discrimination claim may be made. If you are unsure of whether or not you are a victim of age discrimination, the experienced NYC employment attorneys at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. can help.
It is illegal to discriminate based on race or color in the workplace. It is also unlawful to treat an applicant or employee unfairly due to their marriage with a person of a certain race or color. Race discrimination can involve several unjust behaviors, including:
- Racial slurs
- Offensive or derogatory remarks
- Display of racially offensive symbols
- Bias based on a person’s hair texture, skin color, or facial features
It should be noted that race discrimination can occur between individuals of the same racial or ethnic background.
Workplace Retaliation and the Whistleblower Law
State and federal legislation dictates that an employee cannot be discriminated against for exercising their rights under the Department of Labor’s whistleblower protection laws. Whistleblower protection laws safeguard individuals who report unlawful or discriminatory behavior in the workplace. It is an employee’s right to report such behavior and not face retaliation. In the context of employment, retaliation can take the form of engaging in any of the following behaviors after a person reports discrimination:
- Firing or laying off an employee
- Demoting an employee
- Denying overtime or promotion
- Reducing pay and/or hours
It is helpful to think of retaliation as any adverse behavior that would prevent an employee from raising a concern about a violation in the workplace.
The Family and Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees employees up to twelve weeks of unpaid, job protected leave per year. The goal of the legislation is to help employees balance their work and personal affairs, allowing them to take off work due to familial or medical reasons. Under the FMLA, employees can take leave from work for any of the following reasons:
- For the birth and/or care of a newborn child
- For the care of an adopted child, or a child placed with the employee for foster care
- For the care of an immediate family member with a serious health condition
- For medical leave, if the employee is unable to work due to a health condition
It is illegal to retaliate against an employee for requesting or taking FMLA-related leave. Violations of the FMLA may be considered employment discrimination under the law.
Other Forms of Employment Discrimination
There are many forms of employment discrimination aside from the ones described above. The NYC employment discrimination attorneys at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. also represent clients who were victims of:
- Religious Discrimination: treating an employee or job application unfairly due to their religious beliefs.
- Disability Discrimination: the Americans with Disabilities Act and New York State law prohibits an employer from making employment decisions or otherwise discriminating against an employee due to disability.
- National Origin Discrimination: it is illegal to discriminate against employees or job applicants due to the part of the world they come from or they appear to come from a certain ethnic background.
- Family Status and Pregnancy Discrimination: unfair treatment due to pregnancy or family status, for example refusing to promote a person because they are the parent of a toddler, is expressly prohibited under state and federal law.
How Can Ricotta & Marks, P.C. Employment Lawyers Help?
We understand how stressful and frustrating it can be to experience discrimination in your place of employment. Such treatment can result in long-term emotional distress, negatively affect your financial standing, and can impact your future job prospects. With two office locations, our team of experienced New York City employment lawyers at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. are available to help. Contact or call us today at 347-479-1749 to learn how we can advocate for your rights.