Phillips & Associates

How Do You Win A Discrimination Lawsuit?

The best way to win a discrimination lawsuit depends on the particular facts of your case and how the law applies to them. Federal, state, and local laws prohibit employment discrimination. In most cases, however, it is a challenge to recover damages from an employer because you'll need to show your employer’s actions were based on your protected characteristic, such as race or sex. In some cases, the discrimination is obvious, such as when an employer makes suggestive sexual comments, requests sexual favors, or continuously comments or compliments you regarding your looks or body parts. Additionally, racist comments or comments about your religion or national origin can be good evidence of discrimination. If these are in a text or email your evidence is even stronger. You should hire the seasoned New York City employment discrimination lawyers of Phillips & Associates to make sure you get a fair shot at trial. Additionally, your employer and its defense team are more likely to settle if they see your attorney is capable of taking a case all the way through trial and willing to do so.

In pregnancy discrimination cases we look at the timing. Were you fired or demoted:

  • Immediately after you told your employer you were pregnant?
  • As soon as you began to show your pregnancy?
  • When you returned from maternity leave?

Any termination or demotion shortly after one of the above would be helpful in pursing your discrimination case. Additionally, there may be comments about your pregnancy and/or ability to be a working mother. These stereotypical comments can help you win your discrimination case.

If you have a medical condition, timing can also be important factor in wining your discrimination case. For example, were you fired or demoted:

  • Immediately after you told your employer about your medical condition?
  • Shortly after you told your employer about your medical condition?
  • When you had to go out sick?
  • When you returned from your sick leave?

However, to recover damages, your medical condition must be considered a disability under the law. The definition of what constitutes a disability varies under federal, state and city discrimination laws. Your discrimination lawyers should be well-versed in these differences. Additionally, to win an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or disability discrimination case, you have to let your employer know that you need an accommodation due to a disability and what accommodation you are requesting. Requesting an accommodation in writing with a doctor’s note would be helpful toward winning your discrimination case. However, your employer does not have to grant the exact accommodation you are requesting, especially if it places an undue hardship on the employer’s business. But they do need to consider the request and discuss it along with any alternative accommodation they could grant you.

Most employers are loosely aware of workplace antidiscrimination laws and will not expressly admit that they acted adversely against you because of an aspect of your identity. Rather, they may conceal the real reasons for their actions or develop pretextual reasons for making certain decisions.

Winning a New York City Discrimination Lawsuit Under State Law

The New York State Human Rights Law was recently amended to be more protective of employees with marginalized identities. The state law is now required to be construed liberally, as city law is. The state law now permits you to recover punitive damages for discrimination; you could not, prior to the amendments. Additionally, the law now applies to every employer in the state, even those companies with just one employee.

To win a discrimination lawsuit under state law, we will need to show:

  • You have a protected characteristic
  • Your employer took an adverse employment action against you based on your protected characteristic, or
  • Your employer subjected you to a hostile work environment.

Protected characteristics under the state law include: race, color, creed, age, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, and disability. There are many different circumstances that could be grounds for winning a discrimination lawsuit. For example:

  • We may be able to win a race discrimination lawsuit if you were harassed or subjected to an adverse employment decision because you are Black.
  • We may be able to win a gender identity discrimination lawsuit if you were harassed in the workplace due to your gender identity.
  • We may be able to win a lawsuit under state law if we are able to prove you were denied reasonable accommodations for your disability.

Adverse employment actions can include:

  • Failure to hire
  • Termination
  • Failure to promote
  • Demotion
  • Disparate pay
  • Harassment.

We need to be able to show a causal link between your protected characteristic and the employer's action. In some cases, there is direct evidence of an employer's motive that would help us to win. However, in most cases, we will need to build your case by investigating, talking to your coworkers and other witnesses, and engaging in aggressive discovery to obtain circumstantial evidence. Most of the time, employers possess more evidence about their employee’s grievance and the situations at issue than do their employees. If we file a lawsuit on your behalf, we can make formal requests for personnel information, emails, and other relevant documents and information that would go towards establishing your entitlement to damages and what your losses are.

The standard for establishing a hostile work environment is lower under the new amendments. To win, we will need to prove workplace harassment subjected you to inferior terms, conditions, or privileges of employment due to your protected characteristic.

How You Win Under City Law

The New York City Human Rights Law has long provided substantial protection to employees based on a broad range of protected characteristics. To win your lawsuit, we would need to show you have a protected characteristic that served as the basis of an adverse employment action. Characteristics protected under city law include:

  • Gender
  • Gender identity
  • Disability
  • Color
  • Immigration status
  • Age
  • Race
  • National origin
  • Pregnancy
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Veteran status
  • Arrest or conviction record
  • Credit history
  • Caregiver status
  • Domestic violence victim status.

The case law regarding employment discrimination under city law is well-developed, especially in comparison to the amendments to state law. However, the city law only applies if your employer has at least four employees. State law may be more clearly favorable as the years go by and courts interpret the amendments.

We may be able to win your discrimination lawsuit in many different situations under the New York City Human Rights Act, such as if:

  • A prospective employer decided not to hire you because it saw from a background check that you were arrested for drinking in public years ago, even though you were never convicted.
  • You were fired because you are Mormon.
  • You were not promoted because you are Latina, and your employer believes that Latina workers are not cut out for management positions.
  • You are a Black employee who was subject to insults and use of the n-word by your supervisor.
How You Win Under Federal Law

There are several different federal antidiscrimination laws including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the ADA. In most cases, federal laws apply to midsize or large employers; for example, Title VII would only apply if your New York City employer has at least 15 employees. Additionally, winning under federal law is extremely challenging. Under federal law, we need to show the harassment you faced was severe or pervasive to establish a hostile work environment, which is higher than the standard that must be met under state or local laws.

Hire Our Aggressive Trial Lawyers to Fight For You in Court

An experienced New York City employment discrimination attorney understands the strategies that are likely to be successful in obtaining the evidence you need to win your lawsuit. As your attorneys, we can advise you on documenting your case and other matters in preparation for trial. Our preparation can make a difference to our ability to settle your case for a fair sum or win your case through a successful verdict. Phillips & Associates has years of experience representing workers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County, or Nassau County. Call our firm at (212) 248-7431 or fill out our online form.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
Phillips & Associates did a wonderful job. I would recommend Brittany Stevens. Angel
★★★★★
Employment dispute I had a dispute with my former employer, Jesse Weinstein was patient and thorough with my case. He covered every angle and was able to help me with my dispute. I would recommend Jesse Weinstein and Phillips and Associates in the future to anyone. Margaret
★★★★★
I called at Phillips & Associates seeking for a consultation and I was very pleased with the conversation I had with Eugenio Benvenuto. He was able to answer my questions thoroughly and gave me reassurance. I highly recommend their practice. Giulia
★★★★★
Hands down the best law firm for labor disputes in NYC. Being in the restaurant industry for more than 30 years I can say that this law firm is the number one choice for workers in the restaurant business that need to sue their company for wrongful termination. A special compliment to my lawyer Brittany Stevens. An amazing person and well prepared experienced lawyer. She was professional and empathetic to my case and worked in a time appropriate manner. She never miss a phone call at any hour of the day.The other associates that assisted Brittany were Yusha Hiraman and Eugenio Benvenuto. They were all professional and answered any questions or concerns that I had. Brittany and her team helped me with what I needed, when I needed it. I want to thank them all (especially Brittany), for a job well done. Massimo
★★★★★
Jesse Weinstein handled my discrimination case. He was extremely patient and understanding throughout the process and remained professional and consistent even when I could not. I really felt like he had my back and I didn't have to worry. His expertise, combined with the experience of the Firm, resulted in the best possible outcome of my case. Although I wouldn't wish what I went through on anyone, things do and always will happen and I would highly recommend Jesse and this Firm to anyone facing discrimination or other workplace issues. Karen