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Sexual Orientation Discrimination

New York Attorneys Asserting the Rights of Employees

People should be able to work without fear of mistreatment because of their sexual orientation, but members of the lesbian, gay, and bisexual communities are routinely treated adversely in the workplace. Sexual orientation discrimination is unlawful, and employers that allow it to persist in the workplace should be held accountable. If you were subjected to discrimination because of your sexual orientation, you may have a viable claim for damages. At Gerstman Schwartz, our skillful New York sexual orientation discrimination lawyers are sensitive to the economic and emotional harm that victims of workplace discrimination suffer. We can fight to help you seek a just result.

Statutory Protections Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Employees are protected from sexual orientation discrimination by state and federal laws. At the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) provides that it is unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire or to fire a person because of the individual’s sex. Title VII also states that it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee regarding privileges, conditions, or terms of employment because of the employee’s sex, or to classify, limit, or segregate job applicants or employees in a way that would negatively affect their employment status because of their sex. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that sex as defined by Title VII includes sexual orientation.

The New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) provide the same protections as Title VII, except that they specifically list sexual orientation as a protected class. A sexual orientation discrimination attorney can help New York employees bring claims under these laws as well. The NYCHRL also states that it is unlawful for an employer to advise a prospective employee that a position is no longer available when it is in fact open because of the employee’s sexual orientation. The NYSHRL defines sexual orientation as actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, asexuality, or bisexuality. The NYCHRL defines it more broadly to include pansexuality, and it includes a sexual or physical attraction to other people, or the lack thereof, on the basis of gender.

Recovering Damages for Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Victims of discrimination in the workplace can seek damages from their employers in civil lawsuits. The exact claims that an employee can pursue will depend on multiple factors, including the circumstances surrounding the discriminatory acts and the number of people who work for the employer. Plaintiffs in sexual orientation discrimination lawsuits face the same burden of proof under Title VII and the NYSHRL. Specifically, they must show that they were qualified to perform the duties of the jobs in question, but their employers took adverse employment actions against them. Examples of adverse employment actions include termination and demotion. Then, plaintiffs and their New York sexual orientation discrimination attorneys must establish that the circumstances surrounding the negative employment act allow for the inference that it was motivated by discriminatory beliefs.

Plaintiffs pursuing claims under the NYCHRL face a lesser burden. While they still need to establish that they were qualified for the subject position, they only need to show that they were treated less favorably than other employees and that the reason for the unfavorable treatment was their sexual orientation.

Employees who successfully prove that they were victims of sexual orientation discrimination may be awarded compensatory damages for the economic losses suffered as a result of an employer’s acts or omissions, as well as compensation for any emotional or mental trauma that they sustained. In some instances, they may be awarded punitive damages as well.

Speak to a Trusted Employment Discrimination Attorney

People’s sexuality should not affect their treatment at work, but many people are mistreated because of their sexual orientation. The trusted New York attorneys at Gerstman Schwartz can advise you on your rights and help you pursue the full amount of compensation recoverable under the facts of your case. We routinely represent employees in discrimination lawsuits in New York City and Nassau and Suffolk Counties. You can reach us to schedule a meeting with a sexual orientation discrimination lawyer in New York by calling our New York City office at (212) 227-7070 or our Garden City office at (516) 880-8170 or by using our form online.

Client Reviews
Thank you so much for standing up to my employer at a time when I couldn't do it myself. Your support and professionalism is so greatly appreciated. R.L.
I was scared to fight my employer. I knew it would be an uphill battle, and I wasn’t sure I could win against an organization with their resources. But Gerstman Schwartz gave me courage, confidence and they delivered on every promise. Ashley
Mr. Gerstman helped me double my severance pay and extend my health insurance. I cannot thank him and Gerstman Schwartz enough. Lenny B.