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Workplace protections in New York are extensive

The New York State Human Rights Law provides workplace protections that go beyond those provided by federal law. The Civil Rights Act protects all American workers from workplace discrimination or harassment based on race, religion, national origin or gender, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits discrimination based on age. New York's Human Rights Law protects workers in the Empire State from discrimination based on additional factors including sexual orientation, marital status, military status, criminal arrest records and genetic characteristics.

Conduct is considered a violation of state or federal employment protections when it creates a workplace environment that a reasonable person would consider offensive, hostile or intimidating. Petty slights or minor annoyances would not meet this standard, but behavior such as mockery or ridicule, offensive objects or images, threats or physical assaults and offensive language or humor would be considered workplace harassment.

Workers in New York who feel that they have been treated unfairly can file a complaint with the state's Division of Human Rights or initiate legal proceedings directly in a state court. However, they cannot file both a complaint and a lawsuit. The outcomes of complaints filed with the Division of Human Rights are determined in an administrative hearing. Hearings are scheduled when an investigation discovers probable cause to believe that unlawful conduct occurred.

Attorneys with employment law experience may advise workers who wish to file a complaint or lawsuit over workplace discrimination to keep detailed records of unlawful conduct. These records should include specific descriptions of the conduct in question along with the date and time it occurred and the names of any witnesses. Workers should also write down how unlawful conduct affected their emotional and physical health. Attorneys could use this material to establish liability in court or encourage employers to settle discrimination or harassment claims at the negotiating table.

Source: New York State Office of the Attorney General, New York State Human Rights Law

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