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What Constitutes “Illegal Discrimination” in the Workplace?

Employees in New York City are protected from “illegal discrimination” by a number of different federal, state, and city laws.  While employers may fire you for no reason at all, they may not fire you or take other adverse employment action against you (such as denying you a promotion or raise) based on an illegal reason.

The important thing to remember is this:  In order to win a discrimination case, you must prove that the employer’s decision was motivated by an illegal reason.

The main illegal reasons are:

  • Race –  you cannot be discriminated against based on your race or ethnicity
  • Skin Color – you cannot be discriminated against based on your skin color, regardless of your race or ethnicity
  • National Origin – if you are legally residing in this country and permitted to work, then you cannot be discriminated against based on the country where you were born or came from
  • Religion – you cannot be discriminated against based on your religious beliefs;  and if your employer accommodates employees with certain religious beliefs, such as allowing time off for prayers or religious holidays, then your employer must make reasonably similar accommodations for other religious beliefs
  • Sex or Gender – you cannot be discriminated against because of your sex or gender, or because you do not conform to stereotypes about your sex or gender
  • Sexual Orientation or Identity — while the laws are still developing in this area, employees in New York City have protections against discrimination based on their sexual orientation or identity
  • Disability – you cannot be discriminated against because of a physical or mental disability as long as you can perform the duties of your job with reasonable accommodations
  • Age – you cannot be discriminated against because you are over the age of 40
  • Genetic Information – you cannot be discriminated against based on genetic tests, a predisposition to specific diseases or disorders, or other genetic information
  • Marital Status – you cannot be discriminated against based on whether you are married or unmarried
  • Height or Weight – you cannot be discriminated against based on your height or weight as long as you can perform your job duties, even if that requires a reasonable accommodation
  • Misdemeanor Arrest Record – you cannot be discriminated against based on a misdemeanor arrest; in New York City you also cannot be discriminated against based on a misdemeanor conviction, unless you were convicted of a crime that is directly related to your job responsibilities.

Have You Been Discriminated Against?

If you believe your employer has discriminated against you for an illegal reason, you need to seek advice from an experienced employment lawyer.  We can help.  Call The Howley Law Firm today at (212) 601-2728 [link to click to call] to schedule a free and confidential consultation with an experienced employment attorney.