New York City Employment Laws Help Employees Assert Their Rights on a Level Playing Field

Our jobs are, in many ways, the centerpieces of our lives. We often depend on employment not only to support ourselves and our families but also to provide features like health insurance and retirement savings. For many people, their job shares a close relationship with their identity—one of the first questions people often hear upon meeting someone is “What do you do?” As important as having a job is in our society, though, the employer/employee relationship has a built-in imbalance of power. An employee may be unwilling to challenge discrimination or harassment for fear of losing their job. New York City offers multiple legal protections for employees, and a skilled employment attorney can use these laws to level the playing field, so the employee can assert their rights.

Employers ought to value their employees for the quality of their work and the skills they bring to the table. This accurately describes most employers, but discrimination on the basis of factors like race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, criminal history, and others continues to hinder people’s employment prospects for no valid reason. Employees in New York City enjoy the protection of numerous statutes addressing discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

At the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, and national origin. The Equal Pay Act, also at the federal level, prohibits wage disparities based solely on gender. Since these laws cover the entire country, they are not necessarily as comprehensive as state and local laws in New York City. The New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) prohibits employment discrimination based on several more factors than Title VII. The New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) offers some of the broadest protection against discrimination in the country.

Sexual Harassment

Title VII’s definition of sex discrimination includes sexual harassment, which is defined to include unwanted sexual remarks or advances, requests for sexual activity in some form as a condition of employment, and harassment that is severe enough to create a hostile work environment. Both women and men can experience unlawful sexual harassment, and the perpetrators can be of the opposite or the same sex. The NYSHRL and NYCHRL offer similar protections against sexual harassment, allowing civil actions to recover damages.

Pregnancy Discrimination

Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, and medical conditions related to either is included in Title VII’s definition of sex discrimination. State and city laws identify it as a distinct type of discrimination. Employees can assert claims for adverse employment decisions under these laws. The Americans with Disabilities Act obligates employers, in certain situations, to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees and those who have recently given birth.

Additional Protections under the NYCHRL

New York City’s law extends protections against employment discrimination on several bases that are not expressly included in Title VII. These include gender identity and gender expression discrimination, as well as discrimination on the basis of an employee’s caregiver responsibilities to family members. The city has also joined other cities around the country in restricting employers’ ability to discriminate with regard to job applicants’ criminal history, requiring them to wait until an offer is on the table before asking about it.

The employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates have decades of combined experience advocating for the rights of employees and job applicants in New York City, helping them assert their rights against sexual harassment, discrimination, and other unlawful employment practices. Contact us online or at (212) 248-7431 today to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a member of our skilled and experienced team.

More Blog Posts:

Paid Family Leave Statute to Take Effect in New York in 2018, New York Employment Attorney Blog, January 12, 2017

Sexual Harassment Allegations at New York City Jail Part of Larger Sexual Abuse Scandal, New York Employment Attorney Blog, January 5, 2017

Federal Court Rules on Gender Identity Employment Discrimination Claim, New York Employment Attorney Blog, December 8, 2016

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