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We have anti-discrimination laws because of the long history of sexism and racism against groups who were historically disadvantaged, such as racial minorities and women. The term reverse discrimination refers to discrimination against groups who haven’t historically been discriminated against, such as white males. Reverse discrimination occurs when individuals lose job opportunities or even be terminated from their employment because they are white.

Companies may think they have good intentions when hiring minorities and those who’ve been discriminated against in the past. However, these policies can result in discriminatory hiring practices. The employment attorneys at Lipsky Lowe LLP have decades of experience protecting the rights of all employees in New York City. We regularly hold employers accountable for all types of unlawful discrimination, including reverse discrimination.

Examples of Reverse Discrimination in the Workplace

Reverse discrimination in the workplace happens when the group who has been in the majority, such as white men, suffer adverse employment decisions because of their race and gender. Many companies in New York have implemented diversity equity and inclusion (DEI) programs to hire and promote groups that face historic discrimination. Many companies who use these programs may find that they have unintentionally participated in unlawful race-based or sex-based discrimination. 

For example, a company may worry that women are not fairly represented. Perhaps they are in the engineering industry that white men have historically dominated. They may want to increase their efforts to hire more diverse employees. Consequently, they could end up providing more opportunities for non-white employees and demote, terminate, or fail to hire employees who are white and male. Although these types of programs don’t directly discriminate against minorities, they still create a legal cause of action for employment discrimination in the workplace.

Reverse Discrimination Involving Race

There are several different types of unlawful reverse discrimination. One of the most common examples of reverse discrimination is discrimination against white employees. Suppose a company decides to implement a new racial diversity program because it had previously been accused of discriminating against black employees. The company implements a program to avoid future lawsuits for racial discrimination. A white employee finds out he has been transferred to a less favorable department that requires him to work longer hours for less pay. At the same time, a black employee is promoted to his position and receives higher wages. The white employee may have a valid claim for race-based discrimination. Employees cannot use a person’s race or national origin as the basis to make adverse employment decisions.

Reverse Discrimination Involving Gender

Under local, state, and federal laws, companies in New York cannot discriminate based on a person’s sex, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation, or parental status. Companies in industries that men have historically dominated may be attempting to hire more women. Specifically, businesses in the STEM industry, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and math, have started campaigns for more female employees. 

Suppose a startup company owned by a woman markets itself as promoting women in the STEM industry. When hiring new employees, the company hires a less-qualified female, passing over a more qualified, experienced male. As time goes on, it becomes apparent that the company has only hired female employees. In this case, the male job applicant would likely have a valid legal claim for reverse discrimination. 

Reverse discrimination based on gender can also affect current employees. Suppose a technology company conducts bonus reviews once per year. It becomes obvious that female employees are more regularly promoted and given higher bonuses than male employees with the same experience, job skills, and job performance reviews. The male employees would likely have a claim that they’d experienced adverse employment decisions based on their gender.

Reverse Discrimination Based on Religion

Employees in minority religions in the United States have experienced discrimination in the past, and many continue to experience discrimination now. However, past discrimination does not excuse reverse discrimination based on religion. If an employer decides to hire more Muslim and Buddhist employees to fill supervisor positions while rejecting qualified applicants who are part of religions that have been in the majority, such as Christianity, they are engaging in unlawful discrimination. 

Employers should not ask employees for religious affiliations during the interview because doing so violates religious discrimination laws. Another form of reverse religious discrimination could involve an employer’s willingness to make accommodations based on employees’ religions. For example, suppose an employer allows Muslim employees time to pray multiple times during the workday but does not allow Christian employees the day off for religious dates, such as Good Friday. In that case, the employer is engaging in religious discrimination.

Reverse Disability Discrimination

Individuals in the disability community have fought for equal treatment in the workplace for decades. Federal, state, and local laws require employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with qualifying disabilities. Some employers have attempted to hire or promote employees with disabilities to boost their public Image. 

When these policies negatively impact non-disabled employees, the non-disabled employees may have a valid claim for compensation. For example, suppose an employer replaces a dedicated, non-disabled employee with a job applicant who uses a wheelchair. The applicant does not have experience and isn’t qualified for the position. The non-disabled employee would likely have a valid claim against the employer for discrimination.

Pursuing Damages for Reverse Discrimination

If you’ve been the victim of reverse discrimination, it’s important to understand your rights. Employment discrimination can affect anybody, regardless of their gender, race, or religion. Victims of reverse discrimination may have the right to pursue a claim against their employer for damages. Successful claimants can recover compensation, including money for pain and suffering, lost wages, and emotional distress. Courts may issue additional punitive damages against your employer if the reverse discrimination was intentional.

Contact an Employment Attorney in New York City

If reverse discrimination has resulted in your termination from your job or other adverse employment conditions, it can negatively affect your financial and mental health. Contact Lipsky Lowe LLP To schedule a complimentary, no-obligation case evaluation with a skilled employment attorney in New York.