Most New York residents are familiar with the social networking website Facebook. Now, Facebook's data center in North Carolina is at the center of a racial discrimination lawsuit that was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Nov. 22. The two plaintiffs in the lawsuit are one former employee and one current employee who allege that they were retaliated against for complaining about race discrimination.
Employers in New York should be aware that national origin discrimination occurs within many workplaces. Every year, 11 percent of the charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concern accusations of national origin discrimination within the private sector.
New York residents should know that sexual harassment is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While most companies will tell employees to speak up about sexual harassment if it happens, such policies are often more about helping a business avoid a costly or damaging lawsuit as opposed to looking out for the interests of the employee. Retaliation for filing a sexual harassment claim is also illegal; however, it may occur in more subtle ways after an employee comes forward.
New York employers are required by law to accommodate their employees' religious practices as long as the accommodations do not interfere with business operations. One that employers may be asked to provide for their employees is an exception to the employee dress code. If employees wear religious garb to express their faith, they may be allowed to deviate from the standard company dress code.
On Nov. 4, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled a workplace anti-gay discrimination case can move forward because it violated Title VII's protections based on sex discrimination. However, in an interesting footnote, the presiding judge also agreed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's assertion that sex discrimination is comparable to racial discrimination. The decision could provide a new prism through which to consider discrimination cases in New York and nationwide.
New Yorkers who have been following the ongoing reports about Wells Fargo might be interested in learning that a third lawsuit has been filed against the company for falling stock values. The ERISA lawsuit is seeking class-action certification and was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.
Under both state and federal law, workers in New York are protected when they assert their rights to be paid for what they are owed. If they file a complaint with the state or federal government about not getting paid for hours that they have worked, employers are forbidden from taking retaliatory action against them.
Although a majority of residents in New York and the rest of the country support legislation protect LGBT employees from employment discrimination, federal legislation been repeatedly blocked by Republicans. However, the court system seems poised to accomplish what Congress is unable to.