Workplace Discrimination in New York

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2018 | Buffalo Law Blog, Employment Law, Firm News

Workplace Discrimination in New York

If you feel like you are the victim of workplace discrimination, you may be eligible to file a claim. Here are a few important things you need to know about workplace discrimination in New York.

Workplace Discrimination in New York | Questions to Ask

Oftentimes, people will call me and say, “I’m being subjected to discrimination in the workplace.” My initial response to that caller is to ask a number of specific questions. First of all, I want to know who their employer is and gather other pertinent information. It is not illegal to treat someone different in the workplace.

New York State is what’s called an employment-at-will state. If somebody calls me saying, “I’ve been discriminated against in my workplace,” my initial question to them is usually, ”Why?” For instance, if they call and say, “I’ve been fired, and I think it’s a wrongful termination, and I feel as though I haven’t been treated fairly.” I always ask the question, “Why? Why have you been treated unfairly?”

When the issue is based on personality conflicts, poor management, stupidity, or bias related to some personality trait, none of those things are illegal. It is not illegal – in a workplace – to dislike somebody. When I ask the question, “Why,” and the response is, “Well, I think I’m being treated differently because I’m a woman. The men get more overtime, and they’re getting the better job assignments,” I say, “Well, tell me more about why you’re being discriminated against.”

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Workplace Discrimination in New York | Compensation

People often want to know what they might be able to recover if their employment claim is successful. The basic law governing employment and discrimination claims used to be limited to recovery of lost wages – either past, prospective, or future. Over time, the rules for these claims have expanded to allow the recovery of attorney’s fees, if your claim is successful.

About 25 years ago, the laws were amended to allow for what lawyers call emotional distress damages, or mental anguish damages – what many people in the public would call pain and suffering damages. Those kinds of damages are now recoverable under both federal and state law. From time to time, however, we actually need to hire an economist to figure out what a person has lost. Prospective lost wages can sometimes be hard to estimate. For example, when working with people in their 50s who will not be able to get back into the work place as they should, economists can debate those prospective future lost wages quite extensively. The basics include: lost wages, lost benefits, mental anguish damages (usually capped at $300,000), and attorney’s fees and costs. Attorney’s fees are not capped.

If you need legal representation due to workplace discrimination in New York, please contact our experienced Hamburg workplace discrimination lawyers today for a free consultation.