New York Equal Opportunity Laws

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 What are New York Equal Opportunity Laws?

Equal access for groups is typically covered by equal opportunity legislation regarding hiring, perks, pay rates, promotions, and vacation concerns. The majority of equal opportunity legislation contains anti-discrimination language in some form.

Equal employment opportunity statutes in New York prohibit discrimination against employees based on the following:

  • Age, race, or country of origin
  • Political affiliation and beliefs
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Family status

Additionally, New York offers protection to people who fall under several different categories, such as those genetically predisposed, carrier-status, veteran-status, or gay or straight. Many other state and federal statutes do not always mention these particular categories. Retaliation for employment discrimination is also forbidden (i.e., firing a worker because they have filed a discrimination claim)

How Can I Show Discrimination in the Workplace?

Employees must establish a “prima facie” case of discrimination if they think they may have encountered employment prejudice at work or during an interview. In essence, this statement suggests that they must build a case that the opposing side can challenge or try to refute.

The following components are often necessary to prove job discrimination at least prima facie:

  • The employee belongs to one of the aforementioned protected classes;
  • The employee has experienced a negative work action, such as a demotion, a loss of benefits, being dismissed or terminated, being forced to retire, or not being hired or recruited because of protected qualities.
  • The employee was qualified for the position but was denied it for illegal reasons, even though similarly situated employees who do not possess the protected traits were treated more favorably by the employer.

Why Is Pretext Crucial for Establishing Employment Discrimination?

Pretext, as used in employment law, is a fictitious justification offered for a negative employment action that conceals the real reasons the employer acted in the way that they did.

In essence, the employer seeks to justify (create a pretext for) acts taken against an employee that is not motivated by illegal or discriminatory motives.

For instance, if an individual is fired from their job because their employer learns that they practice Catholicism, the employer can argue that the employee was let go due to a company reorganization rather than because of their religious convictions.

Having a lawyer to assist you in assembling evidence that demonstrates the true motivations behind your employer’s behavior is a smart idea when filing a claim for job discrimination.

How is Pretext Decided Upon?

There are numerous ways to establish the existence of a pretext, including circumstances where a pretext can be inferred from an employer’s illegal discriminating actions. Several instances include:

  • Reasons for Change: Employers that often alter their justifications for terminating a worker are more likely to be lying than those whose justifications stayed constant throughout the conflict;
  • Timing: The factfinder may be able to infer workplace retaliation if there was a short period of time between a protected activity and the adverse employment action. The evidence for demonstrating the existence of a pretext is stronger the shorter the time period between the employee’s acts and termination;
  • Delay in Dealing with Employee Behaviors: If an employer claims that an employee was fired for using foul language, having poor job skills, being careless with details, etc., but has employed that worker for a long time and has never noted or disciplined this behavior in the past, it is more likely that the reason is exaggerated to justify the firing; or
  • Deviation from Policy: Employers who have never fired employees for failing to do something, like lift twenty pounds, but now expect them to do so, even though they

How Do I Make an Equal Opportunity Claim in New York?

Evidence of your membership in a “protected class,” your treatment by your employer, and any losses you received as a result of the discriminatory behavior is typically required to establish employment discrimination.

A written record of the occurrence, witness testimony, proof of lost pay or promotions, and other types of evidence of discrimination will typically be required. Additionally, it might support your argument if you can demonstrate that the management treated other groups in the same industry as you differently (for instance, if other groups were promoted at your expense).

A state agency like the New York Department of Labor is frequently the first place a New York equal opportunity case is filed. To ascertain whether there have been any actual violations, the Department may start an investigation.

They might also provide a cure for losses. A private civil case or, if permitted by law, filing with a government agency like the EEOC are two alternatives.

What Else Can I Do to Make My Case Against My Employer Stronger?

The testimony of witnesses can help to bolster a case for job discrimination. For instance, a witness might have heard the employer say something illegally insulting about a worker because of that person’s affiliation with one of the aforementioned protected classes.

A witness may also be called to give testimony regarding the employee’s qualifications. If an employee was passed over for a promotion, for instance, a witness who actually got the position can attest to their own qualifications. The employer might have engaged in discrimination if the witness had less experience than the worker who was passed over for promotion.

Furthermore, if an employee has documentation supporting their outstanding work performance, this can support their argument. This is especially true if the employee was turned down for a promotion or fired for subpar work.

For example, a performance review or an email of congratulations praising the employee’s work product can be highly useful in proving an employment discrimination lawsuit.

Is an Employer Responsible for Discriminatory Acts Committed by Employees?

In most cases, employers are held vicariously liable for the conduct of their employees. In such a scenario, the company may be held responsible if a manager engages in unlawful discrimination against an employee.

However, the employer will typically not be held responsible for the ensuing prejudice if the manager was operating outside of their power (for example, not within the obligations of their job description).

Alternatively, Can a Manager Be Held Personally Responsible for the Discriminatory Actions of an Employer?

Managers who are instructed to carry out an employer’s unlawfully discriminating request will not be held personally accountable for that employer’s request. This is so that a manager can serve as an “agent” of the employer while not participating in the latter’s discriminating intentions.

In this case, the manager is essentially only following instructions in order to preserve their job, not because they personally believe it or desires to act in a discriminating manner toward that employee. The management will, therefore, typically not be held accountable for the discrimination.

Does Help With New York Equal Opportunity Laws Require Legal Counsel?

New York’s equal opportunity statutes aim to offer workers and prospective employees a range of legal safeguards. If you believe your job rights have been infringed, consider consulting with a local, experienced employment lawyer.

Your New York discrimination attorney can help you with the initial filing of your claim and, if necessary, can represent you in court. Use LegalMatch to find the right lawyer for your needs today.

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