Employees in New York City are protected from unlawful discrimination in the workplace by laws at the local, state, and federal level. The city’s anti discrimination statute is one of the most comprehensive and expansive in the nation, but New York City discrimination attorneys must carefully evaluate each case of alleged discrimination to determine which law best applies. In order to understand what laws protect employees against discrimination in New York City, it is important to understand how these laws apply their protections.
Protected Categories in Anti Discrimination Law
In one sense, employers discriminate all the time, meaning that they make decisions that affect some employees differently than others. Discrimination on the basis of factors like job performance, seniority, or experience is not considered unlawful. When an employer discriminates on the basis of a factor like race, sex, or religion, that is a different story.
Anti discrimination laws identify categories that are protected against employment discrimination. Court decisions may interpret these laws to provide further detail about prohibited workplace practices. The U.S. Supreme Court, for example, ruled more than thirty years ago that the prohibition on sex discrimination found in federal law applies to sexual harassment in the workplace. Some federal courts have held that sex discrimination also includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Other courts have reached opposite conclusions.
Federal Anti Discrimination Law
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the primary anti discrimination law at the federal level. It is also one of the narrowest in terms of the number of categories it specifically protects. The statute only identifies five protected categories: race, color, religion, national origin, and sex. Its definition of sex discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, and medical conditions arising from either.
Other federal statutes address employment discrimination based on certain other factors. For example:
– The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, and requires employers to make certain reasonable accommodations for employees with qualifying disabilities.
– The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects individuals who are at least forty years old from certain forms of discrimination based on age.
– The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits employers from making certain adverse employment decisions based on information obtained through genetic testing.
– The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) limits employers’ ability to use credit reporting information, which may criminal history and other information, in employment decisions.
New York State Anti Discrimination Law
The New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) expands on Title VII’s list of protected categories. It adds many of the categories covered by other federal statutes, and also adds categories like sexual orientation, marital status, domestic violence victim status, and gender identity or gender expression.
New York City Anti Discrimination Law
As mentioned earlier, the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) is one of the broadest anti discrimination laws in the country. It covers most of the same categories as Title VII and the NYSHRL. It adds protections against discrimination based on caregiver status, such as an employee who must care for a sick or injured family member, and prior unemployment. It also goes beyond the FCRA in limiting how employers may consider criminal history when making hiring decisions.
Phillips & Associates’ employment attorneys advocate for the rights employees, former employees, and job seekers in New York City in claims for unlawful discrimination in the workplace. To schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case, please contact us today at (212) 248-7431 or online.