Your Rights Against Workplace Discrimination: How NYC Protects LGBTQ+ Employees

Fingers pointing at an LGBTQ individual, highlighting the issue of homophobia within a society that is unkind and intolerant

New York City laws do not tolerate bad actors who harass or discriminate against employees for their gender identity or sexual orientation. Under the law, you are entitled to feel safe as you are in a respectful workplace that’s free of toxic, harmful, and illegal behavior.

But despite these laws and legal protections, LGBTQ+ New Yorkers continue to face significant challenges. Discrimination and harassment in the workplace can affect not just your career and wages, but your physical and mental health, too – contributing to chronic stress, high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression, with the effects getting worse over time.

One recent poll found that 7% of all Americans identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or anything other than heterosexual. Other research has shown that over 50% of LGBTQ+ people have suffered workplace discrimination of some kind, with people of color affected at even higher rates. Nearly half of all transgender respondents had been unfairly fired or not hired because of their gender identity, with nearly a quarter having experienced sexual harassment at work in the last 5 years.

Workplace discrimination can manifest in many forms, from unequal treatment to derogatory comments and unfair dismissal. The psychological toll of these experiences cannot be overstated and often leads to heightened mental strain and feelings of alienation. But NYC employment discrimination laws exist to protect LGBTQ+ workers and help them get justice.

How Discrimination and Harassment Affect LGBTQ+ Employees

Your workplace should be a space of safety and inclusivity under New York law, not a battleground where your gender identity or sexual orientation is constantly under scrutiny. You may experience subtle or obvious forms of discrimination, some examples including:

  • Inappropriate comments, jokes, derogatory language, or slurs
  • Refusing to use an employee’s preferred pronouns or name
  • Exclusion from work activities, meetings, team exercises, or informal gatherings
  • Ignoring, marginalizing, or demeaning your work contributions
  • Unequal treatment in promotion or advancement, or a pattern of overlooking qualified LGBTQ+ candidates for career development opportunities
  • Evaluating your performance under different standards than other employees
  • Harassment or bullying in the form of taunting, intimidation, or physical threats
  • Spreading rumors or gossip about your sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Failing to respect or acknowledge your transition, or a lack of inclusive policies regarding restrooms and dress codes for trans and non-binary workers
  • Providing unequal benefits for same-sex partners compared to heterosexual couples
  • Dismissing, firing, or terminating you because you are LGBTQ+
  • Retaliating against you for filing a claim of LGBTQ+ discrimination

Microaggressions are also a form of discrimination. These are subtle comments or actions that may be unintentional but convey prejudice against LGBTQ+ individuals. They often come in the form of questions or statements that stereotype or invalidate your experiences.

The fear of being outed, facing hostility or violence, or losing job opportunities because of your sexual orientation or gender identity can enforce a culture of silence. This not only affects your individual mental health and job satisfaction but can also hinder your professional growth and sense of belonging in the workplace. Fortunately, New York law empowers you to seek legal recourse by filing a claim and recovering damages.

NYC Discrimination Laws Based on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

New York City stands as a beacon of progressive legislation, especially when it comes to protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals in the workplace. The NYC Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, covering various aspects of employment including hiring, promotions, salary, and termination.

In addition to these protections, New York City has implemented policies that mandate employers to use an individual’s chosen name and pronouns, a crucial aspect of respecting gender identity. Companies must also provide reasonable accommodations for gender-affirming care and cannot deny employee benefits that cover this type of care.

While these laws are comprehensive, the challenge often lies in enforcement. Employees must be aware of their rights and management must be educated about their obligations under the law. Compliance is not just a legal requirement but a step towards building a workplace where diversity is celebrated and all employees feel valued.

What Is the NYC Human Rights Law?

The NYC Human Rights Law is a cornerstone of anti-discrimination legislation in New York City, offering extensive, robust protections to individuals in the LGBTQ+ community. The law goes beyond employment to encompass housing, public accommodations, and education.  It serves as a powerful tool against bigotry and prejudice so that all New Yorkers can live and work without fear of harassment and discrimination.

Under NYC’s Human Rights Law, it is illegal for employers to make any employment decisions based on sexual orientation or gender identity, including job advertisements, interview processes, and workplace policies. In addition, employers must take active steps to prevent and address incidents of harassment at work. The law also emphasizes the importance of creating an inclusive environment by training employees and managers on LGBTQ+ issues, establishing clear anti-discrimination policies that are actually enforced, and ensuring that all employees have equal access to opportunities and resources.

Can You Sue for LGBTQ+ Discrimination in New York City?

If you’re experiencing illegal discrimination because of your LGBTQ+ status in New York City, you have the right to seek legal recourse under the law.

The first step to take is to contact a New York City employment discrimination lawyer about the specifics of your situation. Depending on how long you’ve been experiencing illegal discrimination and the impact it’s had on your career, you may be entitled to file a claim to recover thousands of dollars in damages. Your recovery could cover:

  • The difference in wages between you and other employees in your position
  • The full wages you would have gotten if you hadn’t been denied a promotion
  • The value of workplace benefits that were denied to you
  • Job placement for you or disciplinary actions for bad actors
  • Punitive damages to punish your employer for their illegal behavior

Going up against your employer can be a daunting task, especially when you rely on your job to pay your bills or you fear that your company may retaliate against you. But you are not alone – and the right legal counsel can make all the difference in your professional future.

At Mirza Law, we help New York City employees who have suffered from workplace discrimination get the justice and compensation that they deserve. Contact us now for a personalized review of your situation and the legal options available to you.