Employees in New York and throughout the country have legal protection against discrimination and harassment in the workplace. In many cases, individuals who are harassed or discriminated against could be entitled to compensation from their employers.
The New York City Commission on Human Rights released guidelines in February that made targeting individuals based on the way they wear their hair in the workplace, at school or in public areas a form of racial discrimination in situations where the hairstyle involved is associated with race. A bill introduced in Albany on May 20 by two New York City Democrats would extend this protection to all Empire State residents. The California Senate unanimously approved a similar law in April.
Workers in New York may know that they can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if they face discrimination due to their sex, race, religion or disability. However, far fewer are familiar with the EEOC's role in protecting workers from discrimination that's based on their genetic information. This provision in workplace civil rights law was adopted in 2008 along with the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which also addresses discrimination from insurers and other companies. It prohibits employers from using genetic information like family medical history, DNA tests or fetal test results to discriminate against workers on the job.
For years, Oracle has been heralded as a leader in the technology sector. But a lawsuit filed by the Department of Labor claims the tech giant has major problems with gender and racial discrimination. The outcome of the suit could have lasting consequences for employers in New York and across the United States.
The Civil Rights Act protects workers in New York and around the country against gender-based discrimination. However, the landmark 1964 law did not specifically address the issue of transgender individuals, and the courts have been inconsistent when tasked with determining whether or not Title VII protections apply to them. While the courts and legislators continue to debate the issue, the business community seems to be more than willing to move forward in this area. Indications that things are improving in the workplace for transgender individuals include improvements in the Corporate Equality Index. The CEI is a ranking of Fortune 500 company policies for LGBT workers that is released each year by the Human Rights Campaign. Only 3 percent of the companies included in the index had nondiscrimination policies that addressed gender identity in 2002, but that figure has since risen to 83 percent. The 2018 CEI also reveals that most of America's largest employers now offer their workers transgender-inclusive health insurance plans.
Civil rights advocates in New York have raised concerns about gender discrimination in job advertisements on Facebook. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, 10 employers have placed Facebook advertisements for jobs that allegedly violate state and federal anti-discrimination laws. The ACLU filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in September 2018 about these employers' practices, and the effort comes following changes earlier in the year to Facebook's advertising system. While employers are no longer able to target job ads based on race, ethnicity or religion, they can still target ads to appear to certain users based on their gender.
Many political organizations and advocates are expressing concern about pregnancy discrimination in workplaces in New York and across the country. A recent media report drew attention to the extent of pregnancy discrimination at some of the biggest companies in America. Indeed, the report emphasized that pregnant women had been refused accommodations, denied promotions and even fired after becoming pregnant. New York's state governor, Andrew Cuomo, has ordered an investigation into these reports of discrimination, saying that it represented a threat to women's rights and equality on the job.
Despite the ongoing rise in awareness about gender discrimination and sexual harassment on the job, many New York employees continue to face these issues. The #MeToo movement has highlighted the many ways in which different types of gender biases have a strong negative effect on women's careers, achievements and pay. It has also brought back to the forefront a term first developed in 1973: "micro-inequities." The term refers to incidents, events and actions that may be small but may have a major overall impact on those who face discrimination on the job.
New York readers know that age discrimination is against the law. However, most older workers who experience job-related age discrimination choose not to file a complaint according to a new report issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
While many in New York and throughout the United States have called for gender equality, data suggests that little has changed since 1999. However, the issue of gender equality in the workplace is a complicated one, and progress depends on an individual's perspective on the matter. For instance, nearly half of woman respondents in one poll said that they were making more money than their husbands.