How to Take Legal Action Against Gender Discrimination in New York City Workplaces

Business opportunities that are unequal.

The unfortunate reality is that thousands of New York City workers experience gender discrimination every day, facing unjust hurdles in their professional lives. Whether you’re facing subtle biases or blatant inequality, workplace discrimination can profoundly impact your career and well-being. But you have rights – and you can take informed steps to protect yourself.

Despite being at the forefront of many diverse industries, New York City’s bustling work landscape is not immune to the pervasive issue of gender discrimination. Even the city has issues, as one study revealed that NYC municipal workers lived with a dramatic pay difference based on gender – up to a $20,000 difference between men and women.

Women in New York City earn an average of 90 cents for every dollar paid to men. Latino and Black women earn 54 and 57 cents respectively, which adds up to less than $32,000 on average per year. Despite women making up half of the city’s workforce, women only take home 40% of the city’s total earnings – and the pay gap is worst for higher-paying jobs such as software developers and financial managers.

When you add up the potential losses of these pay gaps, the disparity over a lifetime can add up to $1 million or more in wage theft, not to mention the value of all the benefits you miss. This pay gap in turn contributes to a widening power gap at all levels of the workforce.

What Is the NYC Law on Gender Discrimination at Work?

In New York City, gender discrimination at work isn’t just unfair, it’s illegal. The city’s laws provide comprehensive protection against discrimination based on gender, covering a wide range of scenarios. This could include hiring, promotions, pay, and job assignments. The law ensures that your gender does not become a barrier to your career progress.

Under New York City’s Human Rights Law, gender discrimination has a broad definition, covering not just men and women but also transgender and non-binary individuals. This inclusive approach ensures that everyone, regardless of what gender they identify, is entitled to the same opportunities and fair treatment at work.

NYC’s anti-discrimination workplace laws are robust, offering employees more extensive protections than federal laws or the laws of other states across the country. The city’s law also recognizes the diverse ways that discrimination can manifest at work. This means that what might not qualify as discrimination under federal law could still be illegal in New York City. 

What Are Examples of Gender Discrimination at Work?

Gender discrimination in the workplace may be obvious or subtle, individual or systemic.

  • Unequal Pay for Equal Work – The pay gap is a major issue that persists to this day, even in a modern city like New York, contributing to a chain reaction of inequalities for workers that can affect their families for generations. In NYC, it could be illegal discrimination to get lower pay for doing the same job as someone of a different gender. In addition, your employer must comply with new pay transparency laws and cannot stop you from talking about your salary and benefits with your coworkers.
  • Harassment or Toxic Work Environment – Unwelcome sexual advances, derogatory comments about your gender, or any behavior that makes you feel unsafe or undervalued at work could be illegal harassment. Harassment based on gender does not have to be overtly sexual to be considered discrimination.
  • Favoritism and Biased Promotions – Your workplace has a pattern of consistently overlooking individuals of a particular gender when it comes to promotions, career development chances, training opportunities, and certain benefits, even when those individuals have equal or superior qualifications to others who advance. You deserve to be acknowledged and rewarded for your workplace accomplishments.
  • Stereotyping in Job Roles – You get assigned or denied specific job roles based on gender stereotypes. For example, your manager assumes that only men are suited for physically demanding tasks or leadership positions.
  • Exclusion from Meetings or Projects – You and other employees of a certain gender are regularly excluded from important meetings, projects, or networking opportunities that are critical to your professional growth. For example, you don’t get invited to outings with coworkers because they’re “hanging out with the guys” or going to gendered locations like strip clubs or gender-exclusive membership clubs.
  • Pregnancy Discrimination – Treating employees poorly because of their pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions is illegal. For example, you get denied parental leave or your supervisor lays you off while you’re on leave. Management may decide that you’re no longer on the fast track to advancement since starting a family.
  • Transgender Discrimination – Unfair treatment of transgender employees is not tolerated in New York City. Refusing to use an employee’s preferred name or pronouns, excluding transgender workers from gender-appropriate facilities, or denying gender-affirming healthcare benefits are all illegal discrimination.

NYC’s Human Rights Law recognizes all of the above examples as illegal discrimination. This reflects the city’s commitment to fostering work environments where employees are judged and rewarded based on their qualifications and performance instead of their gender.

What Can You Do About Gender Discrimination at Work?

If you’re suffering from gender discrimination at work, you have legal options.

First, document everything related to the discrimination. Keep detailed records of incidents, conversations, or decisions that you believe are discrimination. Make sure to make copies for yourself, as your employer may try to cover their tracks if they find out you’re filing a claim.

Second, consider internally reporting the discrimination. NYC companies must have anti-discrimination training and procedures to effectively deal with complaints of discrimination. Unfortunately, many companies fail to address discrimination issues when they come up. In a worst-case scenario, your employer may illegally retaliate against you for filing a claim.

Most importantly, getting the right legal advice is a critical step in addressing workplace gender discrimination. An experienced employment discrimination lawyer can inform you of your rights and guide you in determining your best course of action. You should contact an attorney as soon as you suspect discrimination at work – your legal counsel can evaluate the strength of your case and represent you in legal proceedings if necessary.

At Mirza Law, we’re dedicated to protecting the rights of employees facing illegal harassment and discrimination at work. Contact us now to talk to an employment lawyer about your options.