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Leeds, Brown Law P.C., Race Discrimination Lawyers Serving New York and Surrounding Areas

Racial discrimination is defined broadly in the United States Code.  It can include the biased, pretextual, shocking, or unfair treatment of people based on their color, race, ethnic background, and aspects linked to race like national origin, identity of family members or friends, neighborhood, etc.

Discrimination in law generally involves a negative action.  The action does not have to be against an employee.  It can be a refusal to hire someone as an employee.  It can also involve bias in selection or payment to independent contractors, or refusal to use certain vendors, or to treat contractors equitably.  Outside of the employment area, it can be illegal to deny housing, delay or refuse service in restaurants or other public places, or reject people for other opportunities based on race or identity.

Education and voting are other important areas in which racial discrimination lawyers are active.  Title VI of the Civil Rights Act means that regardless of race, skin or hair color, or national or language background, students in colleges, universities, and K-12 schools receiving federal funding must enjoy equal access to services.  Also, students are entitled to certain evaluations of potential disabilities, accommodations, and special education and similar services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or Section 504 of the “Rehabilitation Act.”  The Voting Rights Act protects the equal right to vote, and may be violated by counties or states “diluting” minority votes or imposing some ID rules.

Sometimes, seemingly neutral rules may in practice result in discrimination.  This was the case with historic voting rights like poll taxes.  Today, in employment and other areas, the law of “disparate impact” means access to public accommodations, employment, and education shall be equal.  According to the federal government: “Disparate impact (also called adverse impact) discrimination happens under Title VI when a recipient of federal funds … adopts a procedure or engages in a practice that has a disproportionate, adverse impact on individuals who are distinguishable based on their race, color, or national origin— even if the [person being sued] did not intend to discriminate.”  (emphasis added).  Equal opportunities and rights can be ensured regardless of intent, seeming neutrality, or some employee misconduct.

Parties to contracts who are not employees often look to Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act.  It is a law that bans racial discrimination in contracts, including the sale or rental of real estate.  It gives persons of every race or national background the “same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of” laws and protections.  The first step in enforcing section 1981 involved the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which was the first federal law to prohibit racial discrimination in the United States, and applied specially to property rentals and sales.  The next step was when the Civil Rights Act of 1968, clarified the scope of federal law to include discrimination in the sale or leasing of real estate based on race, color, national origin, or religion.  According to the federal government, it “prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, (and as amended) handicap and family status.”  A third step came when the Fair Housing Act in 1969 took federal law into include discrimination in the financing, advertising, or brokerage of housing in general, not just real estate.  

Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act is a law that holds governments and private actors who act closely with government officials accountable for violations of civil rights.  The first step in its history came in 1871, when individuals gained the right to sue for damages if city or county governments, state government employees, or others acting “under color of state law” violate their civil rights.  According to the federal courts, “a defendant who subjects a plaintiff to harassment on the basis of a protected characteristic is guilty of intentional discrimination. If that defendant acted under color of state law, then he or she violated the Equal Protection Clause and may be liable under Section 1983.”  Section 1983 also contemplates lawsuits against government employers (state government supervisors, county governments like school boards and sheriffs’ offices, etc.) for retaliation towards employees who speak out against race discrimination or other unlawful treatment in employment.  

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that bars disparate impacts, intentional discrimination, and retaliation in employment where employees’ race, color, national origin, religion, sex, of gender identity is a factor.  The evolution of Title VII from old-fashioned bias to disparate impact to diversity, equity, and inclusion has been a slow one.  When Title VII was first enacted, it was discussed in connection with blatant racism, the Civil Rights Movement, and hiring practices.  In the 1970s and 1980s, the focus of Title VII the doctrines of harassment and disparate impact took hold.  Racial or other harassment occurs when offensive, unwelcome, or harmful words or actions are experienced by a member of a protected group.  According to the federal government, “In many disparate impact cases, there has been no proof of discrimination as the motivating factor for that particular qualification or standard.”  Rather, an employer has adopted some job qualification, job rule, promotional standard, or employment policy that may have a disproportionately negative impact on certain groups of employees based on their race, color, national origin, gender, or religion.  For example, the qualifications listed in the advertisement for new hires, or the standards applied for promotion to executive or the C-suite, may lead to a low number of Black or Hispanic employees being hired, or promoted to executive.  Finally, diversity, equity, and inclusion is a practice of rectifying disparate impacts and discriminatory actions, and preventing individuals and organizations from excluding or homogenizing the workplace.

The New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) is a state law about discrimination.  Like federal law, it mentions protected characteristics, like age, national origin, color, race, gender, creed, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, military service status, familial or marital status, domestic violence victim status, and disability.  It also relates to harassment and retaliation, not just discrimination or disparate impact.  The New York State Division of Human Rights was created to help implement the law, issue guidelines, and look into employee or other complaints of discrimination.  It is not the final authority however, because individual workers and consumers can go directly to court for discrimination.  

New York cities and counties have human rights laws too.  Some of them have language a lot like the federal laws, or like the NYSHRL.  They may also add protected classes to the lists of who may sue.  The Nassau County Human Rights Law bars race discrimination by addressing discrimination in employment, housing, and public places like businesses open to the public.  Like the NYSHRL and Title VII, it addresses retaliation against individuals who file a complaint, testify in court or before government agencies, participate in an investigation or proceeding related to discrimination, or speak out and oppose discrimination.  The Suffolk County Human Rights Law (Suffolk County HRL) is similar.

The New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) and the NYC Department of Human Rights work together on discrimination, disparate impacts, and inclusion. The NYCHRL addresses discrimination in housing, businesses open to the public, employment, and other areas of life.  It includes immigration or citizenship status, prior arrest or conviction record, and height or weight as protected characteristics.

Some Examples of How Gender & Racial Discrimination Lawyers Can Advise You

Gender and racial discrimination lawyers can advise you as to the requirements for bringing suit for discrimination, disparate impact, retaliation, or harassment.  They can analyze your various identities for protection under the law.  They can advise how to preserve, find, or mandate the disclosure of evidence to support or corroborate your story of unfair treatment.  They can negotiate for reinstatement, unpaid wages or benefits, retiree status, or protection as a class action representative or person providing evidence. 

Discrimination Based on Multiple Identities

Sometimes, people are treated differently based on more than one identity.  Women of one or more minority status may be particularly affected.  Or lesbians may be treated differently from gay men, or transgender persons who identify as men treated differently from those who identify as men. 

Contact a New York City Racial Discrimination Lawyer Today

The race discrimination attorneys at Leeds Brown Law, P.C. would be happy to discuss your gender or race discrimination matter in confidence and provide a free consultation to answer your questions and evaluate your potential claim. Contact a New York City Race Discrimination Lawyer at Leeds Brown Law to see if you have a racial or other discrimination claim against your employer. Contact Leeds Brown Law, P.C., (516) 873-9550, or jbrown@leedsbrownlaw.com. 

Our efforts have resulted in millions of dollars in monetary and non-monetary compensation for employees throughout New York City and Long Island.