Phillips & Associates

Yonkers Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Employment Attorneys Protecting the Rights of Yonkers Residents

Yonkers is a diverse city with a population of about 200,000 residents. Women account for about 53% of the population. Despite the area’s diversity and relatively forward-looking attitudes, sexual orientation discrimination still happens at some workplaces. Whether your sexual orientation is as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, or heterosexual person, it should not be the basis for an employer's adverse employment action against you. If you believe that you have been a victim of sexual orientation discrimination at your job, you should consult the Yonkers sexual orientation discrimination lawyers at Phillips & Associates.

State Laws Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination

The New York Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) prohibits sexual orientation discrimination in workplaces in which there are at least four employees. Your employer should not treat you adversely for your actual or perceived sexual orientation, whether you are lesbian, gay, asexual, bisexual, or heterosexual. By adverse treatment, this means that a company should not fail to hire you, fail to promote you, fire you, fail to pay a bonus to you, or give you the worst work assignments based on sexual orientation rather than merit.

For example, if you are told that you are the frontrunner for a job over the phone, but you mention during the interview that you are lesbian, and then you are not hired, a sexual orientation discrimination attorney in Yonkers may be able to help you bring a claim. Similarly, if your employer pays bonuses to every employee except you, despite your work performance being on par with theirs, and you are gay, it may be worth investigating whether the cause was sexual orientation discrimination.

There are situations in which SONDA will not apply. If you work for a church, monastery, or other religious institution, it may be exempted from SONDA coverage. The issue will be whether the institution determined that its employment decisions would promote the religious beliefs for which it was created. For example, if you work at a church and reveal that you are gay, you may not be able to recover damages under SONDA for a wrongful termination.

Federal Laws and Related Uncertainties

Generally, SONDA provides better protection than Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits sex discrimination. It is administered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC has explained that even though Title VII does not explicitly prohibit sexual orientation discrimination, sexual orientation is one type of sex discrimination, which is explicitly prohibited. This guidance is consistent with Supreme Court case law, which has held that it is unlawful sex discrimination to make employment decisions based on gender stereotyping. Accordingly, the EEOC has applied pre-existing Title VII case law to sex discrimination claims brought by individuals who are gay, lesbian, or transgender. It has also raised these positions in litigation against private companies.

However, our Yonkers sexual orientation discrimination attorneys are aware that there is a conflict among the courts. Some courts agree with the EEOC position, while others do not find a prohibition against sexual orientation because it is not clearly stated under Title VII as a protected category. Accordingly, in most cases, it is wiser to proceed under SONDA.

Retaliation for a Complaint of Sexual Orientation Discrimination

It can be stressful to bring a claim of sexual orientation discrimination against your employer. Your employer is not allowed to retaliate against you for engaging in the protected activity of complaining or filing a lawsuit about the discrimination. You will need to prove that: (1) you engaged in a protected activity, (2) your employer was aware of that activity, (3) you suffered a negative employment action, and (4) there was a causal connection between the protected activity and the negative action.

One New York case involved a police officer who had previously been employed with the NYPD and sued for discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in 2007. He later voluntarily resigned to work in a different state, and then he returned and applied for reinstatement. He was denied. The officer claimed that the police department had put a psychological hold on his job application and found him psychologically unfit for the job because of the 2007 discrimination lawsuit against it. The police psychologist's report stated that the plaintiff relied on litigation to resolve issues. The court found that this statement and the finding that the plaintiff was psychologically unfit were sufficient to plead that there was a causal link between the protected activity and the adverse action, even though the litigation was far in the past.

Consult a Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawyer in the Yonkers Area

At Phillips & Associates, our experienced attorneys help employees who have faced sexual orientation discrimination on the job in Yonkers. If you believe that you have been affected by this illegal conduct, you can contact us at (212) 248-7431 or through our online form to set up a free consultation.

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