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Workplace discrimination in New York

Employees in New York may benefit from learning more about the state's laws against workplace discrimination. New York's Human Rights Law reflects similarly to the provisions established under federal discrimination laws. The Human Rights Law specifically prohibits discrimination against disabilities. The state's Division of Human Rights is an administrative agency tasked with enforcing the act and investigating complaints of violations. When appropriate, the agency may process a discrimination claim concurrently with federal entities.

The Human Rights Law's general definition of disability is described as broad as it includes any medical, mental or physical impairment that is caused by genetic, physiological, neurological or anatomical conditions preventing normal bodily functions or one that can be demonstrated through medically approved clinical or diagnostic techniques. Also included under this definition is any record of the impairment or the prevalence of a condition others perceive as an impairment.

In terms of employment, the Human Rights Law limits the definition to include impairments which, with reasonable accommodations, do not stop an employee from completing occupational responsibilities in a reasonable manner. Under these laws, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees on the basis of a perceived, previous or current disability. These laws apply to all public employers as well as any private employer with at least four employees. People working for a spouse, parent or child are not covered by this law.

Workers or applicants who feel victimized by employment discrimination may benefit from consulting a lawyer. Legal counsel may be able to investigate the complaint and help identify the most advantageous strategy for taking decisive legal action against the appropriate parties. Lawyers may be effective in obtaining punitive damages against the employer as well as getting the employee reinstated. Courts could also be compelled to order employers to implement mandates that prevent future incidents from occurring.

Source: Legal Action Center, "New York Laws Regarding Discrimination ", October 13, 2014

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