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Navigating Discrimination: The Role of Discrimination Lawyers in NYC

Founding Member of Moshes Law, P.C.
During his years of practice, Yuriy has concentrated in litigation and real estate transactions as his areas of expertise.

New York City prides itself on being a diverse and inclusive environment. To ensure equal opportunity for all, the city has enacted comprehensive anti-discrimination laws.  However, navigating these laws and enforcing your rights can be a complex process. Here’s where discrimination lawyers in NYC play a vital role.

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Understanding Discrimination Laws in NYC

New York City has strong laws in place to prevent discrimination. This applies across various areas of life, ensuring everyone has a fair shot at opportunities. Here’s a breakdown of key points:

Local Laws:

NYC Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) offers broader protections than federal and state laws. It covers employers with as few as 4 employees (compared to 15 for federal law). This means more workplaces fall under NYC’s anti-discrimination umbrella.

Protected Classes:

NYCHRL protects against discrimination based on a wide range of factors, including: 

  • Race & Color
  • National Origin
  • Religion & Creed
  • Sex & Gender (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression)
  • Age (18 and over)
  • Disability
  • Marital Status & Partnership Status
  • Veteran or Military Status
  • Immigration or Citizenship Status (NYCHRL offers the most comprehensive protections in the nation for immigrants)
  • Caregiver Status
  • Recent Arrest or Conviction Record (restrictions apply)
  • Height & Weight 

Types of Discrimination:

The law prohibits discrimination in various aspects of life, including:

  • Employment (hiring, firing, promotions, pay, benefits)
  • Housing (rental applications, evictions)
  • Public Accommodations (restaurants, stores, transportation)
  • Credit Opportunities

Examples of Legal Precedents and Statutes:

  • In 2019, the NYCHRL was amended to clarify and strengthen protections for transgender individuals.
  • The NYCHRL’s inclusion of height and weight as protected classes is a recent example of the city’s commitment to combating discrimination in all its forms.

Common Discrimination Cases in NYC

Discrimination in the workplace is illegal in New York City under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL). This law offers broader protections than federal laws, making it especially important to understand your rights in NYC. Here’s a breakdown of common discrimination cases:

Discrimination Based On:

  • Race (27.4% of complaints to the EEOC from NY State)
  • Religion
  • Disability (31.3% of complaints)
  • Sex/Gender (37.5% of complaints) – This includes sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination.
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Age (19.6% of complaints)
  • National Origin
  • Marital Status


  • Being passed over for a promotion in favor of a less-qualified candidate of a different race.
  • Denied a reasonable accommodation for a disability at work. 
  • Facing a hostile work environment due to sexual orientation or religion.
  • Lower pay or fewer opportunities compared to colleagues of the opposite sex.

Challenges Faced by Victims of Discrimination

  • Feeling Uncomfortable Reporting: Fear of retaliation or losing their job can prevent victims from speaking up.
  • Burden of Proof: The victim may need to provide evidence of discrimination, which can be difficult.
  • Emotional Distress: Discrimination can be a stressful and humiliating experience.

Legal Strategies Employed by Discrimination Lawyers

  • Gathering Evidence: This might include emails, witness statements, or personnel records.
  • Negotiating a Settlement: Many cases are settled outside of court.
  • Filing a Complaint with the NYC Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR): This can lead to an investigation and potential disciplinary action against the employer.
  • Filing a Lawsuit: If the NYCCHR doesn’t resolve the issue, a lawsuit can be filed in court.

Legal Process in Discrimination Cases

Discrimination is a serious issue, and New York City has strong laws to protect you. Here’s a breakdown of the legal process for filing a discrimination claim in NYC:

  1. File a Complaint:

  • Where to File: You’ll need to file a complaint with the NYC Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) if discrimination occurred in areas like employment, housing, or public accommodations (like restaurants or stores).
  • Time is Crucial: Act fast! You generally have one year to file a complaint with the NYCCHR after the alleged discrimination happened.
  • Getting Help: The NYCCHR offers free assistance with filing your complaint, including language interpretation services.
  1. Investigation and Resolution:

  • Investigation: The NYCCHR will investigate your claim. This may involve gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses.
  • Mediation: Often, the NYCCHR will encourage mediation, where a neutral third party helps you and the other party reach a solution. This can be faster and less expensive than litigation.
  1. Your Options for Resolution:

  • If Mediation Fails: You may choose arbitration (a private judge) or litigation (court) to resolve your claim. Each has its pros and cons:
  • Arbitration: Usually faster and less formal than court, but the decision may be final and not appealable.
  • Litigation: More complex and time-consuming, but offers the possibility of a public trial and potentially higher awards.

Important Stats to Consider:

  • In 2022, the NYCCHR received over 15,000 discrimination complaints [Source: NYCCHR website]. This highlights the prevalence of discrimination in the city.
  • Studies show that mediation can resolve up to 70% of discrimination cases 

Discrimination Remedies and Compensation in NYC

If you believe you’ve been discriminated against in New York City, the law offers remedies to make things right. Here’s a breakdown of what you might be entitled to:

Remedies for Discrimination

There are two main types of remedies available under NYC law:

Monetary Damages:

This compensates you financially for your losses due to discrimination. It can include:

  • Back Pay: The wages, bonuses, and benefits you would have earned if not discriminated against.
  • Front Pay: Compensation for future lost wages and benefits you might experience due to the discrimination.
  • Compensatory Damages: Reimbursement for emotional distress, pain and suffering, and other intangible losses.
  • Punitive Damages: Awarded in extreme cases where the employer’s conduct was especially malicious or reckless, aiming to punish them and deter future wrongdoing. (Punitive damages are rare, but possible.)
Non-Monetary Remedies:

These aim to restore you to the position you would have been in without discrimination, and may include:

  • Reinstatement: Getting your job back if you were fired or laid off due to discrimination.
  • Injunctive Relief: A court order requiring the employer to stop discriminatory practices and take specific actions, such as providing anti-discrimination training.


Discrimination lawyers in NYC play a vital role in upholding the rights of individuals and combating injustice in the workplace and beyond. By navigating complex legal frameworks, providing strategic counsel, and advocating for fair treatment under the law, these professionals serve as crucial allies for those facing discrimination.

If you’re seeking legal assistance in discrimination matters in New York City, don’t hesitate to contact Moshes Law P.C. for experienced and dedicated discrimination lawyers who can guide you through the legal process and fight for your rights.

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