Articles Posted in Race Discrimination

On Feb. 1, 2023, Minnesota became at least the 20th state to enact a law that bans discrimination based on hair texture and natural hair styles. Back on Jan. 1, 2023, Illinois’s law barring similar forms of discrimination went into effect. Here in New York, the state and the city have recognized the unacceptable nature of discrimination based on both hair and head coverings. Hair discrimination is an insidious form of mistreatment, as its couches racially or religiously biased misconduct as appropriate under workplace rules barring “unprofessional appearance.” If you have encountered this sort of discrimination at your job, the law in this city and state can potentially protect you. Get in touch with an experienced New York race discrimination lawyer as soon as possible to discuss the options that exist for you.

A race discrimination case from last year is an example of how this type of misconduct can harm a worker. The plaintiff, A.G., was a Black woman of Guyanese ancestry. She also was a legal assistant at the New York office of a multi-state law firm, and someone who allegedly encountered discrimination that attacked her natural hairstyles as being unprofessional in her appearance.

According to the assistant, the employer engaged in several instances of race discrimination, many of which were related to hair. In one instance, an office manager allegedly accused A.G. of attending work with an appearance that was not “polished.” A.G.’s immediate supervisor issued a qualified refutation of that assessment, telling A.G. that “I’m not sure what she means, you dress far better than [a fellow legal assistant who was of Asian ancestry] and I, and your hair is nice, well not today but sometimes!” According to the complaint, the A.G. was wearing her hair in an Afro when the supervisor made the “not [nice] today” comment.

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The COVID-19 pandemic impacted all aspects of life, including people’s work lives. For many, 2020 represented the first time they entered the world of working remotely. Working from home comes with its own unique set of benefits and drawbacks that have been discussed exhaustively over the last two-plus years. Whether you view remote work as a “plus” or a “minus,” it’s important to recognize that your employer can violate anti-discrimination laws if they allow (or prohibit) remote work on an impermissible basis, such as green-lighting it for white workers but turning down Black employees. A knowledgeable New York race discrimination lawyer can help you assess your circumstances to determine if what you experienced was illegal employment discrimination.

Several Black employees of New York City’s Department of Buildings alleged that was exactly what happened to them. The Black workers alleged race-based discrimination across multiple areas, ranging from discipline to promotions to training opportunities to city vehicle usage to overtime opportunities. According to the plaintiffs, specific instances of discriminatory treatment included unwarranted disciplinary write-ups of Black workers, denial of access to city vehicles, and excessive scrutiny of their requests for medical accommodations.

On top of those things, during 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, two white supervisors allegedly allowed white employees to work from home but forced three of the plaintiffs to work in the office. Furthermore, the supervisors forced one Black employee to share a vehicle with “coworkers who had been exposed to COVID.”

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In late October, a Forbes headline asked the provocative question “Do DEI Initiatives Lead to Reverse Discrimination?” Regardless of one’s views on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, it’s important to understand that the law in New York — federal, state, and city — does not differentiate between so-called reverse discrimination and more traditional forms of discrimination. The law prohibits all forms of racial discrimination, regardless of the racial makeup of those who received an employment benefit and those who incurred an adverse action. If you believe you encountered race discrimination at work — regardless of what race you are — you should contact an experienced New York City race discrimination lawyer to discuss your case.

This issue of alleged anti-white discrimination took center stage in a recent case from upstate.

D.F. and M.S., two white captains within the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s police force, applied for the position of Director of Law Enforcement. Under New York civil service law, all candidates for the director position were required to pass a written test.

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Many people have a misguided view of how the civil justice system works. Some may oversimplify it to something on the order of: File suit. Go to trial and, if successful, get compensated. A successful civil case is vastly more complex and intricate than that. There are many details and “boxes” to check, and failure to attend to each of these may turn your successful case into an unsuccessful one. For those reasons and more, it pays to retain an experienced New York City employment discrimination lawyer to handle your case and to do so as soon as possible.

Recently, a worker lost his race discrimination case in state court, and his loss highlights exactly what we mean. The worker, L.F., was a Black man who began working for the Mount Vernon Department of Public Works in 1990.

In 2016, the worker allegedly began encountering multiple problems, including unpaid overtime and racially discriminatory comments from a white coworker (including observations about how “black” L.F. was and that a new commissioner would not believe him because he was Black and the commissioner was white.) L.F. also began experiencing a hostile work environment and retaliation based upon his complaints about unpaid overtime, discrimination, and a hostile work environment.

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Nationality/racial stereotypes span across all nationalities/races and a wide array of subject matter. What all racial stereotypes have in common is that they are offensive, harmful, and inappropriate for the workplace. If you’ve endured this kind of stereotyping at work, a violation of anti-discrimination law may have occurred, so it is well worth your while to contact an experienced New York City employment discrimination lawyer to discuss your circumstances.

Here in New York City, there’s an enhanced possibility that the racial stereotyping you endured at work broke the law. That’s because, in this city, there are multiple different laws banning employment discrimination based on race or nationality.

H.L.’s national origin discrimination case makes for a clear illustration. H.L., who was originally from China, worked for ConEd from 2004 to 2020. During that time, the employee allegedly endured various racist comments and taunts, including one coworker who “would pretend to be Chinese” and speak to H.L. in broken English with a mock Chinese accent. The coworker also frequently instructed H.L. to “open your eyes,” according to the complaint.

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People on social media often question something still being “a thing in [the current year].” The phrase is meant to convey frustration, disbelief, or contempt about some antiquated notion, viewpoint, or belief still occurring in our modern world. One would certainly hope that truly grotesque and blatantly offensive displays of racism in New York workplaces would no longer be “a thing,” but the news and court case filings tell a different — and more depressing — reality. Whether what you encountered was a noose, a banana, gorilla jokes, a KKK hood, or some other insignia of overt racial hostility, don’t wait to take the necessary legal action, and make sure you start with retaining a knowledgeable New York race discrimination lawyer.

In one of the most recent hostile work environment incidents, K.P., a Black man from Brooklyn, allegedly endured gorilla jokes, complete with props.

K.P. started working as a night-shift dispatcher for a distribution-systems provider headquartered upstate. There were also various isolated instances of epithets like “Uncle Tom,” “coon,” “jigaboo,” and the N-word, the last of which was used in connection with the holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, according to the complaint.

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As a person of color, one understands that racial discrimination in the workplace can come from many different directions. Perhaps it is a coworker, a supervisor, or your employer. Other times, though, the racial animus you encounter comes from people outside your employer’s direct control. The law allows you to pursue race discrimination cases against your employer based on the acts of third parties (such as clients/customers, vendors, and contractors,) if the employer was negligent in controlling your workplace. If you’ve encountered racial hostility at work, regardless of who did it, you may have a potential legal case, so you should get in touch a knowledgeable New York City race discrimination lawyer right away.

S.C. was a Black female home health aide who encountered a hostile workplace perpetrated by a client. Six months into her job, she received a phone call from a care manager, who assigned S.C. to work two 12-hour shifts at the home of an 88-year-old woman in Manhattan who suffered from dementia.

The woman who assigned S.C. to the dementia patient told the aide that the patient “could become agitated very quickly” as a result of her dementia. What the care manager did not tell the aide, however, was that the client’s history was more complicated and problematic than that. According to the aide, the employer had a years-long file on the client and her history of “targeting Black people or people of color… with malicious conduct, which included frivolous 911 reports triggered by the client’s racial hatred.” According to S.C., she would have declined the assignment if she had known the truth about the client.

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If you follow the news, you likely have come across the phrases “the wage gap” or “the pay gap.” Generally, when these phrases appear in news stories, they refer to the gender wage gap, a/k/a the extent to which women make less than men for comparable work. Sometimes, though, wage gaps cut along lines other than gender, as a recent federal race discrimination case demonstrates. If you discover that you (and others of your race) are being paid less than others outside your racial group for the same or similar work, then it’s time to consult a knowledgeable New York City race discrimination lawyer and consider what your next legal steps should be.

A group of New York City inspectors recently achieved success, not just in pursuing their wage gap-driven race discrimination case, but in pursuing it as a class action. (Class actions can benefit workers by allowing them to litigate as one, often making costs lower and the likelihood of financial recovery greater.)

The plaintiffs were employed as fire protection inspectors employed by the New York City Fire Department (FDNY). These jobs called for inspectors to “conduct inspections of buildings, facilities, vehicles, and public activities in New York City to ensure compliance with safety codes, rules, and regulations.” According to the inspectors’ lawsuit, roughly 70% of the individuals employed in that role were people of color.

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In any discrimination and/or harassment lawsuit, there are two elements that are essential to success. Obviously, you’ll need to have to present a case where the facts and the law are on your side. Before you can do that, though, you have to acquire the evidence necessary to establish that factual basis. Much of this acquisition process occurs through pre-trial discovery and the exchange of information with the other side. Sometimes, though, the other side doesn’t follow the rules in engaging in the discovery process and, when that happens, you need a skilled New York employment discrimination who can advocate effectively for you to address the situation.

The race discrimination case of R.E., a Black woman employed as a personal training manager by a chain of luxury fitness clubs, shows how all these pieces can come together.

During her last three months on the job, R.E. allegedly experienced racial harassment on multiple occasions and complained about the incidents, but her employer failed to “properly investigate or address” the situations.

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If you’ve endured race-based discrimination at your job, you likely have many questions, like “can I sue?” and “if I sue, what proof and/or allegations do I need to make a case?” In answering these and other critical questions about your race discrimination case, be sure you’re getting the answers you need. To do that, retain an experienced New York City race discrimination lawyer with the knowledge necessary to give you the advice you need.

In many cases, a vital early hurdle is defeating your employer’s motion to dismiss or motion for summary judgment. Keep in mind, though, that you usually do not need as much to defeat one of these motions as you’ll ultimately need at trial.

The race discrimination case of D.W. was a good example. She was a Black woman who worked as an administrative assistant for an employer in Westchester County and was someone who allegedly suffered extensive discrimination.

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