Employers in New York and around the country may pay a steep price for discriminating against workers who are members of a protected class or allowing work environment to become toxic. The California-based video game publisher Riot Games was sued in November 2018 by two female workers who accused the company of treating women unfairly and turning a blind eye to harassment. Riot Games announced in August that it had settled the lawsuit, and several media outlets reported details of the settlement on Dec. 2.
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.
Courts in New York and across the country are awaiting a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court over the legal understanding of sex discrimination. The Obama administration's Justice Department and several federal appeals courts say that the ban on sex discrimination includes a prohibition on discriminating against LGBT employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. However, other courts and the Trump administration's Department of Justice have argued that it does not. While this legal battle is continuing, there are also many standard sex discrimination issues that continue to affect women in the workplace.
African Americans in New York and throughout the country sometimes experience discrimination because of their natural hairstyles. Activists working for the Dove Self-Esteem Project and the CROWN Coalition recently organized an event on the West Coast to urge school administrators to accept natural hairstyles instead of shaming and disciplining students who choose not to treat their hair chemically.
New York readers may assume that women are more likely than men to encounter ageism in the workplace. However, according to a new survey by the website Fairgodboss, that's not the case.
Some people in New York may have heard that Google has faced criticism for its handling of sexual harassment in the workplace, which culminated in a walkout in November in protest. The company revised its sexual harassment policies in response, but critics say the system still does not protect employees, and the organizers of the walkout faced retaliation. Google has come under further scrutiny with the posting of a memo by an employee who says she faced pregnancy discrimination and retaliation.
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 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.
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.
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.