Workplace Harassment & Other Practice Areas
Retaliation for Reporting Discrimination
It’s illegal not only if your employer discriminates against you; it’s illegal if your employer fires you, demotes you, transfers you, or does anything adverse, for reporting discrimination. Whether you report to supervisors or human resources employees, or externally to the EEOC or a private lawyer, retaliation is illegal. These cases are frequently stronger than discrimination claims and can result in damages awards following trial which are higher than those on discrimination claims.
Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment
Gender discrimination involves any adverse action taken by a company because of the gender of an employee, whether it’s failing to pay the same wages as men, failing to promote women or terminating women. Some industries tend to attract these claims, particularly the financial industry, but gender discrimination can be found in any industry. Sexual harassment takes one of two forms: quid pro quo or hostile work environment. Quid pro quo harassment result when a subordinate rebuffs the sexual advances of a supervisor or manager, while hostile work environment claims involve the emotional distress caused by a workplace polluted with sexist language, stereotyping, one-sided preference for employees of a single gender, or physical groping and touching. Sexual harassment claims can only be brought if the workplace is truly polluted with this conduct, and if the person bringing the claim was actually offended by the behavior. The New York City Human Rights Law provides for individual liability with respect to supervisors or managers who participated in, condoned or failed to remedy discriminatory behavior by their subordinates. Lawsuits involving individually named employees often settle because companies do not want to subject their officers to the distraction of litigation and the risk of a judgment for damages against individual employees.
Race and National Origin Discrimination
>Race and national origin discrimination involves stereotyping, hostility, harassment, demotion, termination or other adverse action toward an individual or group of a particular race or national origin. Corporations are very sensitive to race and national origin discrimination, and often educate their workforce to identify and remedy it, but some employers are more sophisticated and committed to preventing it. However, less direct forms of race and national origin discrimination are more common and often fly under the radar, such as denying a Hispanic employee a promotion based on their supposedly unintelligible accent when, in fact, the accent is readily capable of being understood.
Criminal Background Discrimination
Under the New York Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law, it is illegal to discriminate based on prior arrest or conviction record. Often these cases result when candidates with minor records or more serious but older convictions employees who are not hired following a background check which is unnecessarily broad.
Wage and Commissions Recovery
Whether its failing to pay the minimum wage, making illegal deductions from an employee’s pay or failing to pay commissions, it is illegal under state law to fail to promptly pay all wages owed after they have earned. Wage disputes, often involving commissions, are the most common reason we are contacted, and we often litigate these cases. New York is particularly tough on offending companies, with penalties reaching twice the amount owed the employee for the violation.