Is It Worth Suing Your Employer?

It can be difficult to figure out whether it is worth suing your employer, which is why it is crucial that you consult a seasoned trial attorney if you believe you’ve been discriminated against in the workplace. Employment is at-will in New York, which means your employer can terminate you for any reason or no reason. Your employer is not required to be nice to you. However, your employer does have to treat you and its other employees equally, without regard to characteristics protected under the law, such as sex or national origin or race. If you believe you were discriminated against by your employer, you should call the experienced and tenacious New York City employment discrimination lawyers of Phillips & Associates.

The Likelihood of Success Affects Whether It’s Worth Suing Your Employer

It’s not possible to predict the outcome of workplace discrimination litigation. However, it is likely that your employer will have solid legal representation and resources to protract litigation and stall on paying you the damages to which you’re entitled for discrimination if you sue. Your discrimination or harassment lawsuit is more likely to be successful if you’re represented by a seasoned attorney.

Our knowledgeable legal team at Phillips & Associates will look at whether you have rights to relief under federal, state, and local laws. In most cases, the New York City Human Rights Law and the New York State Human Rights Law provide the greatest protection to employees and provide for the greatest possibilities when it comes to damages.

When is It Worth Suing Your Employer Under the New York State Human Rights Law?

The New York State Human Rights Law governs workplaces of all sizes in the state. It protects an employee even if his or her employer has just one employee.

In order to recover damages for discrimination under this law, our lawyers will need to prove:

  • You have a characteristic protected under the state law
  • Due to the protected characteristic, you were subject to an adverse employment decision.

Adverse employment actions include:

  • Failure to Hire
  • Failure to Promote
  • Demotion
  • Disparate Pay
  • Harassment
  • Wrongful Termination.

Protected characteristics under state law include:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Creed
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender Identity or Expression
  • Military status
  • Sex
  • Marital status
  • Disability.

Whether it’s worth suing your employer under state law depends on the situation. How the courts will interpret the recent amendments to the state law is not yet fully clear. There are circumstances in New York City workplaces in which liability under the state law is clearer and the potential damages are higher. For instance:

  • It may be worthwhile to sue your employer under state law if you are a nanny who faces sexual harassment by the parent of your charges and you are now afraid to go to work.
  • Similarly, you may want to pursue a suit for national origin discrimination under state law if you were not promoted to a client-facing management position because you are Asian American, and as a result of your identity, your employer believed you didn’t present the right image.
  • It may be worth suing your employer if your employer says it can’t promote you because you’ve announced that you are pregnant.

There are situations in which an employer’s conduct is so egregious, you may be able to obtain punitive damages. However, it is hard for any lawyer to predict whether the court will award these damages. In the past, the state law did not allow punitive damages, and it is only recently that these are available under state law, as they are under city law.

Worth of Suing Your New York City Employer Under City Law

The city law is meant to be interpreted liberally to provide protection to workers with a range of protected characteristics. It applies to workplaces that have at least 4 employees. Historically, it has been considered one of the most worker-friendly anti-discrimination laws in the country. There are no caps on damages. Protected characteristics include:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion or creed
  • Age
  • National origin
  • Gender
  • Gender Identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability
  • Marital status and partnership status
  • Domestic violence victim status
  • Family status
  • Arrest or conviction record.

The city law also forbids employers from retaliating against you or harassing you because you asserted your rights. You may have a retaliation claim that is worth pursuing under city law if, for example:

  • Your employer refused to give you a reasonable accommodation you needed for a disability, even though it would not have caused an undue hardship to do so, and then retaliated against you for asking for the accommodation by not promoting you, even though you had earned the promotion.
  • You were moved to a lesser-paid position because you complained about coworker harassment while you were transitioning as a trans worker.
  • You filed a charge for religious discrimination and, in response, your employer began giving you poor performance reviews to build a case for firing you.

Lawsuits in Federal Court

Federal laws apply only to midsize or larger employers. For instance, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) apply only if your employer has at least 15 employees. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) applies only if your employer has a minimum of 20 employees. Many of the federal anti-discrimination laws are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which means you’d need to file a charge with the agency before pursuing damages in court. Even if liability is established under federal law, damages will be capped based on your employer’s size. However, in some cases, it may be worth it to pursue damages under federal antidiscrimination laws because federal case law is favorably developed in favor of employees with a particular characteristic or in connection with a specific adverse employment action or some other reason.

Hire an Employment Law Firm

A tough, experienced New York City employment discrimination lawyer understands how to fight for rights and damages to which you’re entitled in court. You should call Phillips & Associates for a free consultation. We have years of representing workers who have been harmed in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County, or Nassau County. Call us at (866) 229-9441 or complete our online form.

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