In honor of Pride Month, Lawyer Monthly magazine recently spoke with the managing partner of Phillips & Associates, William Phillips, and Steven Fingerhut, an associate with Phillips & Associates, to discuss the protections afforded members of the LGBT+ community at work. Phillips & Associates is a New York City employment discrimination law firm that solely represents plaintiffs in employment law claims.
Laws Prohibiting Discrimination Against LGBT+ People
The protection afforded members of the LGBT+ community from discrimination in the workplace depends in large part on where they work. While Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), a federal law, prohibits sex-based discrimination, it does not provide any explicit protection for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Members of the LGBT+ community have nonetheless been successful in pursuing Title VII claims against employers due to discrimination based on their gender identity and sexual orientation, by asserting it is discrimination based on sex.
Conversely, the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) expressly protects employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. As such, LGBT+ employees who work in New York City and who were discriminated against based gender identity and sexual orientation may be able to pursue claims under the NYCHRL.
Discrimination Against LGBT+ People Sufficient to Prove Liability
The standard for imposing liability on an employer for workplace discrimination or harassment varies depending on which law applies. Employees alleging a hostile work environment claim under Title VII face a high burden and will only be able to recover damages if they show they were the victims of harassment that was so severe and pervasive that it changed the conditions of their employment. In contrast, employees alleging discrimination under the NYCHRL must simply prove that the harassment they were subjected to constituted more than a minor inconvenience or insignificant slight.
Actions Employers Can Undertake to Aid Members of the LGBT+ Community
In general, employers should notify all employees that they have a forum to seek support for any sensitive or personal issue. This support is typically provided by a human resources department. Employers should also encourage employees to express any complaints regarding discrimination or harassment to the appropriate person or department and implement steps for addressing and ending harassing behavior. If employees who are members of the LGBT+ community are advised to keep quiet regarding discrimination or harassment, it is advisable for them to contact an attorney to discuss whether their employers’ behavior is actionable.
Speak with an Experienced New York Employment Discrimination Attorney
If you are a member of the LGBT+ community and were the victim of workplace discrimination based on your gender identity or sexual orientation you should speak with an experienced New York employment discrimination attorney to discuss your rights. The adept employment discrimination attorneys of Phillips & Associates will zealously pursue any compensation you may be able to recover for your harm. We can be contacted at (212) 248-7431 or via our form online to set up a meeting regarding your case. We regularly assist individuals in employment discrimination lawsuits in New York City, and in Nassau, Westchester and Suffolk Counties, and New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.