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New York Employment Law Blog

Over 200 companies join brief supporting LGBTQ worker rights

While New York has strong job discrimination protections in place for LGBTQ employees, many other states don't offer such protections. However, that could change thanks to three cases headed to the U.S. Supreme Court in October. In advance of those cases, over 200 American corporations have joined an amicus, or friend of the court, brief in support of a federal anti-discrimination law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers.

The brief, which was issued by a coalition of five LGBTQ civil rights organizations, argues that the U.S. needs a federal rule protecting LGBTQ workers from workplace discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. The brief claims that company policies and the current "patchwork" of state and local laws don't offer enough protection, particularly when it comes to cross-state mobility issues. Some of America's biggest companies endorsed the brief, including Amazon, American Airlines, Best Buy, Coca-Cola, Domino's Pizza, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Google, Microsoft, Nike, Starbucks and Walt Disney. In addition, MLB teams the San Francisco Giants and the Tampa Bay Rays also offered their support.

Black women more likely than white women to be sexually harassed

A study that examined complaints of sexual harassment made from 1997 to 2016 indicated that black women may be more likely than white women to face sexual harassment at work. The study found that reports of harassment overall dropped by 40% during the period studied. New York employers are required by law to provide a workplace free of quid pro quo, or hostile work environment sexual harassment, but these remain problems in many companies.

The study looked at data gathered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and made two conclusions. The first was that the number of sexual harassment claims goes up as the unemployment rate increases. The authors of the study said men are more likely to sexually harass others when they feel less secure at work. The increased rate of unemployment may create a greater need to assert strength and dominance.

EEOC funding insufficient for number of claims

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been closing more and more employment discrimination cases without investigating them. These uninvestigated, closed cases may be more common now due to a lack of Congressional funding and simultaneous pressure to reduce the backlog of cases. Employees in New York who have experienced discrimination in the workplace might be interested in the ramifications of this trend.

In the years since 2008, the number of claims categorized as lowest priority by the EEOC has doubled. Such a categorization generally means that the agency will not conduct mediation, probes or other efforts in connection with those cases. In 2018, roughly 30% of cases were lowest priority, according to the Center for Public Integrity, which got the data via a public record request.

NY1 anchors file lawsuit claiming discrimination

A lawsuit has been filed against New York news station NY1 by five female employees of the company. The suit claims that NY1 has made employment decisions that represent systemic age and gender discrimination. An attorney for the women says that he hopes to hold the company accountable for its actions and put a stop to discrimination against women in the media. According to a spokesperson for the company that owns NY1, the claims have no merit.

Furthermore, the spokesperson said that NY1 provides many opportunities for advancement for women over the age of 40. One of the plaintiffs in the case is the first on-air talent that the station hired. The 61-year-old claims that while her air time has gone down, her 50-year-old male colleague was named the star of a new morning show. She also claims that a new studio was created for the show that is better than the one she broadcasts from.

Employee claims he was fired from bank for his sexual orientation

New York investors may be interested to learn that on June 5, it was reported that a former vice president of Goldman Sachs sued the company for sexual orientation discrimination. According to the former employee, his complaints regarding the discriminatory atmosphere that he experienced while on the job led to his firing.

According the lawsuit filed in New York state court, he was excluded from a conference call by a supervisor because the supervisor stated that he "sounded too gay." In 2018, the former employee had complained to the Employee Relations team that he had experienced incidents of homophobia and sexual orientation discrimination while on the job. After he complained, he alleged that two managers with the company included unwarranted criticisms in his performance review, which were used to create a paper trial prior to his firing. Previously, he had been an employee for eight years with few criticisms during his performance reviews.

Protecting veterans against discrimination at work

Some people in New York might know that there are laws in place that protect people who may face workplace discrimination on the basis of such characteristics as race or religion. They may be unaware that there are similar laws that protect veterans from discrimination.

The Uniformed Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 applies to employers of all sizes and bans discrimination on the basis of military service. It also requires employers to allow employees to return to the job they had prior to deployment. If the person was injured while serving, the employer must make accommodations for any disabilities that individual may have upon returning to work. The Veterans' Preference Act of 1944 gives preference to veterans in federal jobs. It also helps protect veterans if layoffs happen. However, it does not apply to private employers.

Age discrimination holds back older workers

Older adults in New York report that they have a difficult time seeking employment or pursuing promotions. While younger workers may be doubtful about the prevalence of age discrimination in the workplace, older people more frequently report that they face unfair treatment or penalties due to their age. Overall, around 50% of Americans said in one study that they believe age discrimination continues to pose a problem on the job. While only 43% of those under 45 agreed with this statement, 60% of those 60 and over said it was true.

This could indicate several issues. In some cases, younger workers may simply be less aware of incidents of age discrimination. Federal law classifies age discrimination as that which affects workers 40 and over, holding them back from hiring, promotion or pay. However, around 75% of adults 60 and over said that their age put them at a disadvantage when looking for a job. About 65% of those aged 45 to 59 also said the same. Around 10% of people aged 60 and up said that they had been specifically passed over for a raise, promotion or other advancement opportunity due to age; a full 20% of those aged 45 to 59 said the same.

Domestic workers have special protections in New York

People who work in the household help industry often aren't protected by mainstream laws, but those who work in New York have special protections. In 2010, the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights was enacted. This provides specific information about various aspects of employment in this industry.

In order to understand exactly what protections are possible, you first have to know what is considered a domestic worker. Generally, the term refers to people who work for a household. This includes:

  • Babysitters
  • Personal caregivers
  • Nannies
  • Housekeepers

Sexual harassment in the law profession

Sexual harassment occurs in every type of profession and workplace in New York and elsewhere. As such, it should not be surprising that sexual harassment also occurs in the legal profession. However, a survey found that sexual harassment in the legal profession is particularly prevalent for both lawyers and other workers.

The study analyzed responses from nearly 7,000 participants from 135 countries. More than one-third of the women who participated stated that they had experienced sexual harassment in the profession. Approximately 7.4% of men stated that they had experienced sexual harassment. When the different types of jobs within the legal profession were taken into consideration, it was found that 52.5% of women and 18.2% of men who worked government jobs reported harassment. Alternately, the rates of sexual harassment were also high for women at 46.6% in the judiciary. However, zero men in the judiciary reported sexual harassment.

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