New York Employment Law Blog

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Discrimination at the Workplace

An employee has the right to be free from discrimination in the workplace pursuant to the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL).  The NYCHRL applies to any New York employer who has four or more employees.  Discrimination covered by the law can range from disparate treatment or harassment on the grounds of gender, a medical condition, pregnancy, or childbirth, along with other variations.  Consequent to the enactment of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, an employee's condition need not rise to the level of a "disability" in order to be eligible for an accommodation. 

Employers are required to make “reasonable” accommodations to enable employees to perform their job functions without having to compromise their wellbeing or security.  Note, however, that the employer must be aware, or should have been aware, of your particular condition in order to trigger the responsibility.  Similarly, the accommodation need not be unduly burdensome to the employer.  The New York City Commission (Commission) has the power to enforce these laws against employers to the fullest extent of the law.  


Discrimination or harassment can have serious consequences for your career—being forced out of the marketplace, a dramatic decline in pay or loss of promotion, or exclusion from certain assignments.  It may even preclude your advancement within, or entry into, a particular trade or industry.

If you are an employee who has been discriminated against at the workplace, you may be eligible to bring a lawsuit within a certain time limit.  If your complaint is directed to the Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau, it must be brought within one year of the incident.  However, you may also have the option to file with the court, as long as it is within three years of the act in question.  With either course of action, you must demonstrate certain elements to the court in order to establish discrimination.

Sometimes discrimination is not blatant or evident through an employer's continuous acts or repeated behavior.  A subtle or single act may suffice.  An attorney can  determine that you have a valid claim based upon an employer's discriminatory intent, in whole or in part, which inspired the unfair treatment.  However, the severity of the stereotypical, biased, or otherwise degrading conduct, will be used to determine the extent of damages you are entitled to.

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