Phillips & Associates

Westchester County Employment Law

Westchester County Attorneys Fighting for Your Workplace Rights

Westchester County has a population of about 980,000 residents. The median income for the county was $83,000 as of 2014. When you go to work or apply for a job, you expect to be judged based on your merit and your performance. Unfortunately, some employers are biased or bigoted and may make adverse employment decisions based on your membership in a protected category or class. There are numerous protected characteristics under federal and state laws. If you have faced discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or another form of mistreatment at your job, it is crucial to retain a Westchester County employment lawyer to protect your rights. Our firm handles claims arising out of the following protected characteristics, among others:

  • Age
  • Criminal convictions
  • Disability
  • Race and color
  • Nationality/national origin
  • Religion
  • Sex/gender
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexual orientation
Sexual Harassment

Under the New York State Human Rights Law, sexual harassment is prohibited in Westchester County workplaces, no matter how many employees an employer has. Sexual harassment can consist of language, derogatory statements, jokes, pranks, visual images, groping, threats, or sexual violence directed toward an employee because of her or his sex. Sexual harassment can be committed by an employee's coworker, supervisor, client, customer, or manager, and it can be committed or experienced by an employee of either sex. Title VII also prohibits sexual harassment.

Race Discrimination

Workplace race discrimination is prohibited under both state and federal laws. It can include any adverse employment decision made based on an employee's actual or perceived race. For example, if you are passed over for promotions despite being qualified because you are black and your employer is biased against you, this may be race discrimination. Race discrimination lawsuits are usually based on disparate treatment, but our employment attorneys also can help Westchester County residents bring a claim on the basis of disparate impact. A disparate impact lawsuit is based on a policy or practice that seems neutral but has a disproportionate effect on people who are of a certain race.

Sex Discrimination

Sex discrimination in Westchester County workplaces is prohibited under the federal Title VII as well as the New York State Human Rights Law. It occurs if an employer makes an adverse employment decision against you based on your sex. For example, if you are a woman who hits a glass ceiling at your job and watches as less qualified men are promoted into positions above yours, this may be sex discrimination.

Disability Discrimination

Workplace disability discrimination can include any intentional adverse decision made by an employer to deny a disabled employee the same privileges and benefits that it provides to a non-disabled employee. It can also include harassment based on a disability. This type of discrimination is prohibited under both the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the New York State Human Rights Law. These laws both require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled workers who are qualified for the job, but there are noteworthy differences between these laws that can affect the remedies to which you are entitled.

Age Discrimination

Westchester County workplaces that have at least 20 employees are covered by the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Covered employers cannot base employment decisions on an employee being 40 or older. However, if you are 18 or older and are applying for or working at a company with at least four employees, you are protected by the New York State Human Rights Law. The state law prohibits age discrimination against people who are at least 18 years old, except when your age is a bona fide occupational qualification.

Nationality Discrimination

Nationality discrimination is prohibited in Westchester County workplaces under both federal and state laws. It occurs if you are treated adversely in the workplace based on your actual or perceived national origin, ethnicity, ancestry, and sometimes accent. For example, if an employer refuses to promote you to a customer-facing position because he believes that you are Iraqi, our Westchester County employment attorneys may be able to help you bring a nationality discrimination claim. In some cases, for another example, it is national origin discrimination for an employer to have English-only rules in the workplace.

Religious Discrimination

Religious discrimination occurs if your employer takes an adverse employment action based on your religion, instead of your job performance. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers with at least 15 employees are not permitted to discriminate on the basis of religion or religious beliefs. The New York State Human Rights Law also prohibits religious discrimination, but it protects more workers because it applies to employers that have at least four employees.

Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination occurs when an adverse employment decision is made based on an employee's pregnancy, labor, or childbirth. Even before you are hired, you are protected against pregnancy discrimination under federal and state laws. Your employer cannot discriminate against you with regard to any employment decision, including hiring, firing, promoting, providing bonuses, training, fringe benefits, and other terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. Under state law, you are also entitled to a reasonable accommodation for a pregnancy-related condition.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Workplace sexual orientation discrimination is prohibited under SONDA in New York. Sexual orientation can include being bisexual, asexual, homosexual, or heterosexual, or being perceived as having a particular sexual orientation even if you do not. Under SONDA, your employer is not allowed to make an adverse employment decision against you based on your sexual orientation unless it falls into an exemption. Religious institutions, for example, are allowed to restrict employment based on acts designed to uphold religious principles for which they are created or kept.

Wrongful Termination

New York is an at-will employment state. However, this does not leave employers free to break the law when they terminate employees. You may have a wrongful termination case if you were terminated due to your membership in a protected class, or if you were terminated without just cause and you have an employment contract in which an employer has agreed that you will not be fired without just cause for a particular period of time.

Hostile Work Environment

Generally, a hostile work environment exists under federal or state law when an employee with a protected characteristic faces discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, or insults based on that characteristic, and the discriminatory words or actions permeate the workplace, such that the terms and conditions of employment have changed. In most cases, a trivial incident will not count as a hostile work environment unless it is very serious. Hostile work environment litigation often involves a pattern of improper behavior.

Retaliation

The employment discrimination laws enforced by the EEOC, such as Title VII, as well as the New York State Human Rights Law, prohibit an employer from retaliating against an employee for engaging in protected activities, such as filing an internal complaint about discrimination or filing a lawsuit based on discrimination or harassment. Generally, you will need to prove your participation in a protected activity, your employer's awareness of your participation, and an adverse employment decision that occurred because of your participation.

Criminal Conviction Discrimination

Under the New York State Human Rights Law, employers are not allowed to discriminate against job applicants or employees based on their criminal convictions if this violates Article 23-A of the New York State Correction Law. There are certain legal standards that an employer must apply before making an adverse employment decision based on a prior criminal conviction. Moreover, under state law, a prospective employer cannot ask you about arrests that did not result in convictions unless the arrest or accusation is pending at the time that the employer is deciding whether to hire you.

Get Advice or Advocacy from an Employment Lawyer in Westchester County

At Phillips & Associates, our experienced attorneys help clients who have been mistreated on the job in Westchester County. You can contact us at (212) 248-7431 or through our online form for a free consultation. We represent people in Yonkers, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, and White Plains, among other communities.

Client Reviews
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I was a client with this law firm. I can't stress enough how awesome and professional the people are here. Silvia & Erica made me feel so comfortable and welcome. I never had to guess anything. Anytime I call, emailed, or even texted. They were always there. If not they would get back to me as soon as possible. My case was not an easy situation for me but I tell you these guys made it seem like it was. I'm so glad that I use Phillip & Phillip. I thank you guys from the bottom of my heart. I am so grateful to have met such awesome, honest, and caring people. Thank you again.
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They are the best... I am so grateful to them for their help and support... and I wish them the best... special thanks to Mr. Ed Kennedy and Mr. Phillips. Karim
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I highly recommend Phillips & Associates for sexual harassment and discrimination matters. They have a great staff of attorneys who are very professional and personable. They care about their clients and are knowledgeable in the law. Milana