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New York Launches Human Rights Law Ad Campaign

In an effort to spread the word and educate employees about their protections under the city’s Human Rights Law, New York has launched a print advertising campaign concerning the law.

The ad campaign is an effort to educate workers in the city about their rights and includes more than 2000 placards located in subways and run in newspapers and other media. The ads feature a photo of a minority and a quote about his or her rights under the law and explain the laws apply to everyone under the New York City Human Rights Law and share additional information for taking action if the reader feels his or her rights have been violated.

Buzzfeed shares several examples of the ads here.

Law Protects Against Recent Rise in Race and Ethnic Harassment

According to the Commission on Human Rights, there was a 60 percent increase in complaints in 2016, and an additional 30 percent increase this year so far. The majority of these complaints related to race, religion, and immigration status.

The Commission’s Chair, Carmelyn P. Malalis, believes the increase in incidents is due to “… people feeling empowered to be more explicit in their discrimination…” because of the 2016 election. According to Malalis, the campaign validated “… anger or hatred toward certain groups.”

Malalis further explains that she wants New York City residents to know that “regardless of what happens at the federal level, the city of New York will stand up…” for employees.

Law Expands Protected Classes

New York’s law is of note because the protection it offers goes beyond existing state and federal laws. It addresses workplace, housing, and public space discrimination, and defines discriminatory harassment, law enforcement harassment, and retaliation.

Regarding employment, the law covers all workers in the city and classifies interns as employees so the laws apply to those in non-paid and temporary positions. It also establishes a number of protected classes, including those protected by federal laws, as well as citizenship status, gender identity, and partnership status. It also provides protection for those with an arrest or conviction record, poor credit history, victims of domestic violence and stalking, and caregivers.

Under the law, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities and to allow employees to observe religious holidays, in and out of the workplace.

The law also reduces the burden of proof on those filing complaints of discrimination and requires only that the employee show they were treated “less well” because of their protected status. Finally, the law provides broad protection against retaliation for those filing a discrimination complaint or testifying, assisting, or participating in an investigation or hearing, even if the employer is found to not be in violation of the law. The employee only need show they acted in good faith.

New York City’s Human Rights Law goes further than state and federal laws already in place to protect employees against discrimination. If you have questions about whether your employer is in violation of the law or you have questions about the law in general, Contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C..

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