Candy Hernandez is a legal assistant at Phillips and Associates. She is dedicated to helping the employment discrimination attorneys at the firm guide New York City residents through their cases. In her current role, she prepares complaints for filing, provides client service, assists attorneys by preparing documents for hearings and trials, and serves as an interpreter for Spanish-speaking clients at mediations.
Ms. Hernandez has worked in client and customer service for many years. She graduated from Berkeley College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. She is fluent in written and verbal English and Spanish.
All workers have the right to be free from discrimination and harassment on the job. A number of federal, state, and local laws guard against employment discrimination. The main law that prohibits discrimination in the workplace is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII lists a number of protected characteristics, which cannot be the basis for employment actions such as hiring or firing. These characteristics include race, color, national origin, gender, pregnancy, age, and religion.
Race discrimination, for example, involves treating a job applicant or employee in an adverse way because that person is a member of a certain race or has physical characteristics associated with a particular race. Race discrimination can also include treating a person unfavorably due to a marriage or association with somebody of a particular race or color. Race-based harassment is a form of discrimination that is actionable when it is so frequent or severe that it results in adverse employment actions or produces a hostile work environment.
Another common form of unlawful workplace conduct, gender discrimination, often occurs as sexual harassment. Employees may sue for sexual harassment on the basis of either a hostile work environment or a quid pro quo theory. Quid pro quo harassment happens when a boss or supervisor offers to take a favorable employment action in exchange for dates, sex, or sexual behavior. If your coworkers or boss act such that a reasonable person would find the workplace intimidating, offensive, or hostile, meanwhile, courts likely would consider it a hostile work environment. Any action that substantially interferes with an employee's ability to do the job can create a hostile work environment.
Pregnancy discrimination is another form of gender discrimination. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was amended to include the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which forbids discrimination based on pregnancy when taking any employment actions such as hiring, termination, promotions, training, or benefits. Like Title VII, the PDA covers employees of employers that have 15 or more employees. Under the PDA, employers are required to accommodate a pregnant employee just like any other employee with a temporary disability.
If you succeed in an employment discrimination or harassment lawsuit, you may be able to get an injunction that forces your employer to stop any discriminatory practices. If you were terminated, you may also be awarded a right to reinstatement in your job. You may also recover compensatory damages for emotional or psychological injuries and financial losses. In cases of severe discrimination or harassment by an employer that was acting intentionally, recklessly, or especially maliciously, punitive damages may be awarded. Victims of discrimination may recover attorney's fees, court costs, and expert witness fees. When faced with discrimination or harassment in the workplace, it is important to choose a firm whose staff and attorneys are committed to justice for workers.