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1. What is discrimination in employment under the New York City Human Rights Law?
The NYC Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of these protected categories:
Age, Race, Color, Religion/Creed, National Origin, Gender, Pregnancy, Gender Identity and Gender Expression , Disability, Sexual Orientation, Marital or Partnership Status, Alienage or Citizenship Status (non-citizen or immigration status), Arrest or Conviction Record, Credit History, Status as a Victim of Domestic Violence, Sexual Violence, or Stalking, Sexual and Reproductive Health Decisions, and Status as a Caregiver (for a child or sick family member).
This protection includes discrimination because of an individual’s actual status as well as what people think or perceive an individual’s status to be. Individuals are also protected based on their association with other individuals who fall into a protected category.
2. Who can I file an employment complaint against?
The NYC Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination by employers who have four or more employees. It also prohibits discrimination by employment agencies and labor organizations, regardless of their size.
3. Which employees are protected?
You are protected if your employer has employed at least three other people within the past year. The Law protects interns and other unpaid workers, fulltime and part-time workers, independent contractors, and documented and undocumented workers (workers without immigration status).
4. Does the NYC Human Rights Law cover my workplace?
The NYC Human Rights Law applies to people who work in New York City. Job applicants are protected if the job they are applying for is located in New York City, even if they live outside the City.
5. Can my employer fire me for filing a complaint of discrimination?
If your employer fires you for filing a complaint, this action would be illegal retaliation. The NYC Human Rights Law prohibits retaliation against individuals who complain of any unlawful acts of discrimination, or who testify or assist in any proceeding under the Law. If you suspect that anyone has taken action against you that may be retaliatory conduct, please contact the Commission and ask whether such conduct gives rise to a retaliation claim.
6. Can my employer deny me time off work for doctor’s appointments related to my pregnancy?
No. Refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation for your pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition can be a violation of the NYC Human Rights Law. The Law can also require your employer to provide you with time off work to recover following childbirth, and a clean, accessible space to express milk once you return to work.
7. Where can I get more information about my rights related to pregnancy?
8. I need two weeks off work. Does my employer have to let me take time off?
It depends on the reason. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for workers’ disabilities, pregnancies, religious observances, and needs related to their status as victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Reasonable accommodations can include time off work to obtain medical treatment or attend a court hearing. Your employer is not required to allow you to take time off work if you experience a death in the family, or for personal travel.
9. My coworker is harassing me, is there anything I can do?
Yes, if your coworker is harassing you because of a protected category, then you may have a claim under the NYC Human Rights Law. If you believe you are being discriminated against, please call 311 or (718) 722-3131 and ask for the NYC Commission on Human Rights or send us an inquiry.
10. I think my employer is paying me less than other workers. Can I file a case?
It depends on the reason why your employer is paying you less. If you know or have reason to suspect that your employer is paying you less than your peers because of your national origin, citizenship status, gender, race, or any other protected category, please call 311 or (718) 722-3131 and ask for the NYC Commission on Human Rights or send us an inquiry.
11. I have an arrest or conviction record, where can I get more information about how I am protected in employment?
12. I have bad credit, will that affect my ability to get a job?
It shouldn’t. Under the NYC Human Rights Law, an employer cannot use your credit history to decide whether to offer you a job. Get more information
13. Where can I get more information about my rights as a transgender employee?
14. What if I also have a claim under federal discrimination law based on the same facts?
In an employment case, if you file a claim with the Law Enforcement Bureau (LEB), and the same facts would also give you a claim under federal law prohibiting discrimination in employment, your case will be “dual-filed.” This means that it will also be filed with the EEOC, the federal agency that has jurisdiction over federal discrimination claims. Please ask the attorney or investigator assigned to speak with you at your intake appointment for more information about this process.
15. If my employment case is successful, what remedies and/or damages can the Commission order?
The Commissioner can order a respondent to cease and desist from engaging in the unlawful conduct; reinstate an employee; provide an accommodation; pay for lost wages; and pay for emotional distress damages, among other remedies. The Commissioner may also assess civil penalties (paid to the City of New York) of up to $125,000 for violations, and up to $250,000 for violations that are the result of willful, wanton or malicious conduct, as well as require respondents to take other actions such as training for managers and employees.
Get information about outcomes in discrimination cases: