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Common Employment Disputes in New York

By Douglas Lipsky

Despite federal, state, and local laws governing workplaces in New York, employment-related disputes are commonplace. From discrimination to harassment to wage disputes and wrongful termination, it takes an experienced employment lawyer to protect your rights.

Employment Discrimination

Employees in New York City are protected against discrimination under:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • The New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL)
  • The New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL)

In short, these laws prohibit employers from making employment decisions (e.g. hiring, firing, compensating, promoting) based on an employee’s or job applicant’s race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other legally protected characteristics. While federal laws require employees to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before pursuing an employment lawsuit, there is no such requirement under the state and city laws. 

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is considered an unlawful form of discrimination under federal, state, and local laws. Harassment comes in many forms, from a supervisor making sexual demands in exchange for a benefit of employment (e.g. job offer, raise, promotion) to workers being subjected to unwanted conduct, comments, or displays by anyone in the workplace (supervisors, coworkers, clients, vendors).

While women are most often the target, sexual harassment can impact anyone, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Despite the fact that sexual harassment is illegal, victims are often reluctant to come forward out of fear of retaliation and damage to their reputation. The best way to fight back is to work with an experienced sexual harassment attorney. 

Wage Disputes

All employees in New York must be paid a minimum wage which is now $15 per hour in New York City and Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, and $13.20 in other areas of the state. Also, eligible employees are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of time-and-a-half their hourly rate for working more than 40 hours per week. If you have been denied fair wages, you have powerful legal recourse under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the New York Labor Law. By working with an experienced wage and hour attorney, you can protect your rights through an individual claim or a class-action lawsuit.

Wrongful Termination

New York is an at-will state for purposes of employment, which means you can be terminated at any time for any reason or no reason at all. However, you cannot be fired for an unlawful or discriminatory reason. In particular, an employer cannot terminate you merely because you are a member of a protected class or for complaining about discrimination, harassment, wage violations, or any other unlawful conduct by your employer. 

Why This Matters

Whether you have been subjected to discrimination, harassment, or treated unfairly in other ways by your employer, you have a right to take legal action. Although employers have the upper hand against workers who depend on their paychecks, Getting in touch with a skilled employment lawyer can level the playing field. We will work to protect your employment rights, and fight to win you just compensation.

About the Author
Douglas Lipsky is a co-founding partner of Lipsky Lowe LLP. He has extensive experience in all areas of employment law, including discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, breach of contract, unpaid overtime, and unpaid tips. He also represents clients in complex wage and hour claims, including collective actions under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and class actions under the laws of many different states. If you have questions about this article, contact Douglas today.