I Was Fired Because of My Gender. What Are My Rights?

By Douglas Lipsky

You may have a valid wrongful termination claim if you suspect your employer fired you due to sex or gender discrimination. The best way to protect your rights is to consult an experienced employment lawyer. Let’s look at wrongful termination based on gender discrimination.  

What Is Gender Discrimination?

Federal, state, and city laws forbid discrimination in any aspect of employment, including:

  • Hiring
  • Compensating
  • Promoting
  • Firing

Gender discrimination occurs when an employee is treated differently because of their gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity and involves any type of sex-based discrimination in the workplace. In short, you cannot be terminated solely because of your gender or for complaining about discrimination. 

Additionally, sexual harassment is considered an unlawful form of discrimination under applicable laws, including:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)
  • New York State Human Rights Law (NYHRL)
  • New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL)

For example, being terminated for refusing a supervisor’s sexual advances is known as quid pro quo harassment. Similarly, offensive or derogatory sex-based comments, gestures, or displays that create a hostile work environment or lead to an adverse employment action (e.g. termination) is considered an illegal form of gender discrimination. 

How To Spot Wrongful Termination Based On Gender

New York is an at-will state for employment purposes, which means your employer can fire you at any time, with or without cause. An employer can also fire you for poor performance, regardless of whether their evaluation is inaccurate. On the other hand, your employer cannot fire you for a discriminatory reason. 

Examples of wrongful termination due to gender discrimination include:

  • Firing a pregnant employee or an employee with a pregnancy-related medical condition for requesting leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Firing a male employee for requesting leave under the FMLA to care for a newborn or adopted child
  • Firing an employee because of their sexual orientation 
  • Firing an employee for complaining about gender discrimination or sexual harassment

Unfortunately, employers have the upper hand in employment decisions and know how to disguise their discriminatory motives, which makes proving wrongful termination challenging. 

What To Do If You Were Fired Because of Gender Discrimination

If you believe gender was the reason for your termination, take steps to protect your rights. One is to document any incidents of discrimination or harassment that led to your termination. Another is to establish a timeline of events, such as noting when you were fired and who was involved. Then consult with an experienced wrongful termination attorney, one with the skills, resources, and determination to hold your employer accountable. 

Depending on the circumstance, you can recover damages such as:

  • Lost wages – back and front pay
  • Lost bonuses/paid time off
  • The value of lost employment benefits (health, retirement)
  • Reputational damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Attorney fees and court costs 

You can fight back against wrongful termination and get the justice you deserve by contacting an experienced gender discrimination attorney,

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.