Iris J. Ramirez is a paralegal who assists the New York City employment discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates. She started in the legal field as a legal administrative assistant in 2005. She continued her legal career in 2010 as a paralegal at disability and litigation firms prior to joining us. Her work is concentrated on providing behind-the-scenes, meticulous support from the start of litigation until the resolution of each suit. She understands that every client requires a different accommodating and supportive approach as they continuously pursue their claims against illegal business practices. Ms. Ramirez is committed to helping workers seek justice when they are faced with employment discrimination and other employer misconduct.
Federal, state and local laws prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of several protected categories, such as race, national origin, sex, religion, and disability. Discrimination includes taking any adverse step toward an employee because of a protected characteristic. For example, not hiring someone because they are Muslim is a form of employment discrimination. Harassment is a form of discrimination and comes in two forms: quid pro quo and hostile work environment.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when an employee is offered a benefit or threatened with an adverse action in exchange for the performance of a sexual favor. Although most people associate this type of harassment with male bosses and female employees, it may occur between employers and employees of the same sex, or a female employer and a male employee.
A hostile work environment exists when harassment is so severe or so ingrained in the workplace that a reasonable person would find that it interfered with their ability to do their job. Usually, isolated incidents and offhand comments do not qualify as hostile work environment harassment. Instead, this type of harassment usually involves either an outrageous act of harassment or an ongoing set of harassing incidents. In some situations, harassment and discrimination may be subtle, but over a long period of time, they may wear down an employee's morale.
A federal law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits this type of discrimination and harassment. It applies to employers that have 15 or more employees, as well as government employees. The first step in bringing a Title VII lawsuit is to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC may investigate the allegations and ask your employer and you to go to mediation. In some cases, the EEOC is able to resolve disputes related to discrimination or harassment. If not, the agency will issue a right-to-sue letter. However, you should not assume that you do not have a case if the EEOC does not find discrimination or harassment. It is important to consult an employment attorney to review the particular facts of your claim.
In most cases, moreover, New York and New York City laws provide greater protections to workers than federal laws do. For example, under state law, you may bring a sexual harassment claim even if you are your employer's only employee.
Iris J. Ramirez and the team at Phillips & Associates are committed to helping you vigorously assert your rights if you have suffered from employment discrimination or harassment.