Under New York law, employers may not discriminate based on age, race, color, national origin, sex, disability, genetic predisposition, sexual orientation, or marital status (i.e. protected class).

Disable Persons

The protection for disabled persons does not mean an employer is prohibited from terminating or refusing to hire someone who is unable to do the job. It does, however, require that employers make reasonable accommodations for such persons.

Can a More Qualified Person Can Be Hired Instead?

An employer is not liable simply for hiring the most qualified applicants even if the objective requirements of a job implicate a protected class of people.

For example, if you have a disability that prevents you from doing your job, an employer may fire you, or refuse to hire you, if reasonable accommodations can't be made. Or, if an employer is seeking people to model men’s clothing, they are not breaking the law by hiring only men. In this case, women, by virtue of their sex, are not qualified to do the job.

Affirmative Action Programs

On the other hand, New York law does not prohibit employers from implementing affirmative action programs designed to increase workplace diversity. Thus, an employer can hire a less qualify individual to promote workplace diversity and the employer will not be liable to the more qualified individual.

Consulting an Attorney

Generally, an employer can refuse to hire a person so long as it is not motivated by discriminatory intent. A qualified New York employment lawyer can provide you more information if there is a legal basis for your claim. He can also help you file the necessary legal paperwork and represent you in court.