Phillips & Associates is pleased to welcome accomplished New York City employment lawyer Gregory Calliste, Jr. to the firm. Mr. Calliste has handled legal matters in both state and federal courts, as well as in administrative agencies such as the EEOC and the New York State Division of Human Rights, for 13 years. His experience as an employment discrimination attorney includes advocating for workers in well-over 50 discrimination lawsuits. In one case, for example, Mr. Calliste was part of a litigation team that won a $4.7 million verdict for a Yemeni-American employee, who was being discriminated against by his coworkers and then he was verbally and physically assaulted at his place of employment.
Federal, state, and local laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of certain protected characteristics in the workplace. For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin, religion, race, sex, or color. National origin discrimination involves treating a job applicant or employee adversely, based on their home country or ethnic background. National origin discrimination is unlawful even if the perpetrator of the discrimination is wrong about the victim’s home country or ethnicity. For example, someone from South Asia could be a victim of national origin discrimination even if a supervisor discriminating against her thought that she was Middle Eastern.
Harassment is one form of discrimination. A victim may have a claim if they are unlawfully harassed by a supervisor, a coworker, or a client or customer. Harassment in the context of national origin discrimination may include offensive comments about someone's accent, ethnicity, or national origin. Generally, harassment must either be so frequent that it permeates the workplace or be so egregious that a reasonable person would find that it generated a hostile work environment. A single offensive remark about someone’s accent, for example, is unlikely to rise to the level of unlawful harassment.
If you are harassed at work based on a protected characteristic, you should document the incidents of harassment, including the dates and what was said or done. You should use your company's internal procedures for reporting the harassment. Often, these are found in an employment handbook. If internal reporting procedures are not used, a company may claim that it did not know about the harassment or that the employee did not take advantage of the opportunity to have the harassment corrected. You should memorialize any report that you make in writing, including the date.
If your company has 15 or more employees, you may be able to bring a claim under Title VII. You may initiate the claim by filing a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). It may be helpful to retain us at this time. However, even if the EEOC does not find a violation, you should consult an employment attorney about whether you may have a viable claim.
New York laws sometimes offer greater protections to employees than federal laws do. The New York Human Rights Law, for instance, prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on national origin, as well as race, color, creed, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, domestic violence victim status, a criminal or arrest record, military status, or predisposing genetic characteristics. It covers all employers that have four or more employees.
Whether your employer has discriminated against you, condoned harassment of you, or retaliated against you for filing a complaint, Mr. Calliste and the rest of our team can investigate your specific circumstances to determine a strategy for asserting your rights.