Race discrimination occurs when an applicant or a worker is treated differently because of their ethnic origin, race or color. Federal laws prohibit discrimination in the workplace in New York and every other state in the country. Employees could help protect themselves and co-workers from race discrimination by recognizing the different types and reporting occurrences.
In a move that will provide greater workplace protections for employees in New York and nationwide, the U.S. Attorney General released a memo on Dec. 18 announcing that the Justice Department will now interpret federal law to explicitly shield transgender people from workplace discrimination. The announcement is part of a broader effort by the Obama administration to afford transgender employees protection on the job.
Under the First Amendment, Americans have the right to practice the religion of their choice. With the growing variety of religions that exist in New York and around the country comes a challenge for employers, who must allow for religious freedom in the workplace or face religions discrimination allegations in court.
New York has specific rules that employers must follow to avoid claims of harassment. Additionally, various federal statutes prohibit this type of behavior.
Many individuals in New York may be aware that there are laws against certain types of employment discrimination, but they may not know exactly what the protected classes are. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and several other laws prevent discrimination against individuals in multiple categories.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York recently ruled that a woman who was denied a promotion to a management position was eligible to proceed with discrimination claims against her company. According to the judge, a woman who has given birth within four months of a perceived issue is still protected against pregnancy-related employment discrimination. He noted in his decision that women are clearly protected if they are pregnant or on maternity leave. If a woman was recently pregnant, details are not quite as clear in terms of how long after a pregnancy the protections remain in place. However, the judge noted that the pattern that has been observed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit uses four months as the cutoff point.
Though federal and New York law only have a limited number of categories in which to protect employees from workplace discrimination, there are other laws that require employers to look beyond single characteristics when making hiring decisions. Take, for example, a recent statement by the chief of the Civil Rights Bureau for the New York Attorney General's office: "You CANNOT automatically disqualify individuals solely because they have a criminal background." While someone can be denied a job based on his or her criminal background, it cannot be the only reason why they are denied a position.