Discrimination Laws in New York
The New York State Human Rights Law (HRL) is the main statute that protects New York employees from discrimination at work.
Who is Protected
The HRL prohibits an employer from discriminating because of an individual’s:
• Age (if you are at least 18 years of age)
• Arrest Record, including youthful offender record or sealed conviction record
• Conviction Record
• Creed / Religion (religious belief, practice, or observance)
• Disability (a physical or mental condition)
• Domestic Violence Victim Status
• Familial Status (if you are pregnant or have children under age 18 in the household)
• Genetic Predisposition (information from a genetic test)
• Marital Status (single, married, separated, divorced, widowed)
• Military Status (including military reserves)
• National Origin (the country where you or your ancestors were born)
• Race/Color (because you are Asian, Black, Indian, White, etc.; includes ethnicity)
• Retaliation (if your employer took action against you because you complained about or opposed discrimination, or participated in an investigation of discrimination)
• Sex (based on the fact that you are a male or female, sexual stereotyping, sexual harassment, or pregnancy discrimination)
• Sexual Orientation (heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, or perceived)
Is Your Employer Covered
Only employers with four or more employees are covered.
How to File a Complaint Under the NYSHRL
You should make sure that your complaint is cross-filed with the EEOC if you also have a claim under federal law.
You do not need a lawyer to file a claim, but many employers will have experienced employment lawyers to defend its position.
State Division Investigation
The State Division of Human Rights has the authority to investigate your claim. They will do so by interviewing you and informing your employer that you have filed a claim. The State Division will ask your employer to explain the reasons for its actions. Based on that information, the SDHR will determine whether or not, there is probable cause to believe that an act of discrimination has occurred, and will notify the parties.
If the State Division find no probably cause, the complaint is dismissed and you have the option of filing an appeal in Court.
If the State issues probable cause, it can undertake a public hearing to determine whether your rights were violated.