New York Employment and Civil Rights Lawyers

The Harman Firm understands that employment and civil rights violations can have an overwhelming, even devastating impact on people’s personal and professional lives.

When disputes arise in employment, our New York employment discrimination lawyers aim to build bridges between employees and employers. When police officers abuse civilians—whether through police misconduct, police abuse, false imprisonment, racial profiling, or malicious prosecution—we fight for just compensation. If a resolution is not possible, we guide our clients through the financial and emotional challenges of a legal battle with zealous advocacy, legal expertise, and sound advice. We offer the time, talent, and support needed when confronting any situation.

Few are prepared for the trauma caused by police misconduct, or sexual harassment or discrimination based on protected characteristics such as race, age, gender, pregnancy, disability, or sexual orientation. The Harman Firm encourages victims to address that trauma, come forward with their claims, and consult an attorney regarding their legal options. We are prepared to analyze and resolve the challenges caused by illegal conduct.

Employment Discrimination

Federal, state, and local laws prohibit employment discrimination. Each of these laws provides protections for different groups of people. Discrimination can include harassment as well as adverse decisions based on membership in a protected class. Discrimination or harassment can occur in areas such as hiring, termination, compensation, recruitment, promotions, training, assignments, and fringe benefits. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is one of the federal anti-discrimination laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and it prohibits employment discrimination based on color, race, sex, national origin, and religion. Our employment discrimination attorneys also often help New York residents bring claims under the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law. These laws provide broader protections than does federal law.

Age Discrimination

Age discrimination can be subtle and can include pressuring an older employee to retire, promoting a younger person instead of an older worker, or refusing to hire or promote an otherwise qualified employee due to his or her age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) is the federal law that protects employees over the age of 40 from age discrimination at work. The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) amended the ADEA to provide a safety net for older workers in connection with severance agreements, layoffs, and release of claims. The New York State Human Rights Law, which covers employers with at least four employees, prohibits age discrimination if you are 18 or older. The New York City Human Rights Law protects people of all ages from employment discrimination.

Disability Discrimination

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the federal law that prohibits disability discrimination. The New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law also prohibit workplace disability discrimination. Our New York employment discrimination attorneys can hold an employer accountable for making an adverse decision against an employee based on an actual or perceived disability. However, each of the laws defines disability slightly differently. Employers should provide a reasonable accommodation for employees with a known disability, except when doing so would impose an undue hardship.

Sexual Harassment

Workplace sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. It can include groping, touching, memes, requests for sexual favors, assault, and other unwelcome sexual advances. A harasser may be a manager, a supervisor, a coworker, or a customer. If the harasser is in a position of power over you, and they condition employment on providing a sexual favor or submitting to harassment, the harassment is considered quid pro quo harassment. Meanwhile, if the harassment is so severe or pervasive that the workplace is made a hostile work environment, you may have a claim against the employer for sexual harassment, even if the harasser was a coworker or a client.

Pregnancy Discrimination

Although pregnancy may be welcome in a woman’s life, it can change how an employer treats her. Our employment discrimination lawyers help New York employees protect their rights when this happens. Federal, state, and local laws prohibit pregnancy discrimination. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It prohibits employment discrimination, including adverse decisions in hiring, promotion, firing, assignments, training, and benefits. It also provides that a pregnant woman should be treated and accommodated like other temporarily disabled employees. State and local laws provide stronger, broader protections for pregnant employees and employees with pregnancy-related conditions. These laws also apply to smaller employers.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination

The New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law make it illegal for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant or employee based on their sexual orientation. Sexual orientation discrimination could include derogatory remarks about gay, lesbian, or bisexual people, denying a promotion based on your sexual orientation, not being hired because of your sexual orientation, or being terminated due to your sexual orientation. It also includes harassment based on sexual orientation and sex stereotyping. No federal laws expressly prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace. However, the EEOC and courts have interpreted sexual orientation as being included in the prohibition against sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Criminal Conviction Discrimination

Criminal conviction discrimination occurs when a job applicant or employee is mistreated because of a criminal conviction. Our New York employment discrimination lawyers help job applicants and employees fight back against this type of discrimination. A New York employer with at least four employees is not supposed to deny you a job or treat you adversely because they have decided that you do not have good moral character due to a prior conviction. There is no federal law explicitly prohibiting criminal conviction discrimination. However, when an employer gets information about your criminal conviction and uses it to discriminate against you, it may implicate another protected class, such as national origin or race.

Substance Abuse Discrimination

Substance abuse and dependency may carry a stigma, and the stigma can affect how someone is treated at work. However, substance abuse and dependency disorders are medical conditions that, under certain circumstances, are protected as disabilities under federal, state, and local laws. Alcoholism can be a disability under the ADA if you can show that you have a current or past addiction to alcohol that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Current illegal drug use is not protected under the ADA, but if you are a recovering addict who has been successfully rehabilitated or is undergoing treatment for addiction, you are protected from discrimination based on the past addiction. Addiction and alcoholism are disabilities under the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law as well.

Medical Marijuana in the Workplace

Medical marijuana presents some challenges in the workplace. Employers are allowed to fire somebody who is impaired by marijuana while working. They can prohibit marijuana use at work, and they can require that employees not come to work while impaired. Enforcing this rule can be challenging, since marijuana appears on drug tests weeks after it stops having any sort of impairing effect. Our employment discrimination attorneys will observe how New York courts address the issues that arise in connection with medical marijuana in the workplace. Federal courts in some states have sided with medical marijuana users who have sued for discriminatory hiring practices.

Overtime

Federal and New York laws require employers to pay nonexempt employees time and a half if they work over 40 hours in a work week. There are jobs that are exempt under the federal law that can still qualify for overtime under New York wage and hour law. Employers are supposed to look at a work week by looking at a fixed schedule of continuous seven-day periods, with each day having 24 hours. The calculation is done by looking at your regular rate and the hours that you worked in the work week. There are several types of compensatory damages that you can potentially recover in New York if you are not paid overtime appropriately, including unpaid overtime wages, interest, and attorneys’ fees and costs for the lawsuit. If there was no good-faith reason for the underpayment, you can recover liquidated damages, which are equal to 100% of the underpaid wages.

Family and Medical Leave

New York employers need to follow the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. This allows employees who work for an employer with at least 50 employees to take leave for certain specified reasons, such as the birth of a new child, bonding with a new adopted child, or a family member’s serious medical condition. The leave is job-protected. New York law also permits leave for family and medical reasons. As a New York employee, you are protected by both federal and state laws. Our employment discrimination lawyers can advise New York residents on which law may be most beneficial to them.

Police Misconduct

Although the police are vested with a great deal of trust, they sometimes abuse their power through excessive force or false arrests. New York police officers can make a lawful arrest if they have an arrest warrant, have probable cause to believe that you committed a crime, have a good reason to believe that you are a criminal trying to flee the scene of a crime, or find that you are interfering with a valid police investigation or arrest. For example, under the Fourth Amendment, the police must have probable cause to arrest you. Probable cause means that specific facts and circumstances within the knowledge of the officer would lead a reasonable person to believe that a suspect perpetrated, is perpetrating, or is about to perpetrate a crime. 42 U.S.C. section 1983 allows you to sue in federal court if someone acts under the authority of state law to deprive you of your rights under the Constitution or federal law.

Consult an Experienced Employment or Civil Rights Attorney

If you do not receive the protections to which you are entitled under the law, you should consult a skillful attorney. At The Harman Firm, we represent people throughout the New York City metropolitan area, including in Long Island, Westchester County, and Northern New Jersey. We also have an office in Miami, from which we represent people in South Florida. Contact us at 212.425.2600 or online if you need an employment discrimination attorney in New York or assistance in fighting a civil rights violation.

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"Thank you for all your help. I appreciate your work. I am grateful for the outcome of our case but I wish in future cases with pregnant women you will get a lot of publicity and make a difference in the mentality of our society, and prevent it from happening in the future." A.L.
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