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New York’s Human Rights Law Extends Protection to Small Businesses

rights for allNew York’s Human Rights Law Extends Protection to Small Businesses

The majority of federal laws protecting employees apply only to medium to large-sized businesses. This means that the millions of people who are employed by small businesses across the country do not receive the same protection that others receive just because their employer is smaller. Many of these businesses fall into gaps when it comes to federal anti-discrimination laws and there is little they can do about a violation of their rights.

Luckily, New York has done something about that.

New York’s Human Rights Law extends protection to those working for small businesses. It closes the gap left by a lack of federal protection and ensures that employees, even those who work for small companies, are protected.

Small Business Employees in New York Receive Protection Not Offered Under Federal Laws

Small businesses make up the vast majority of employers in the United States. According to data from the US Census Bureau, nearly 90 percent of all businesses employ fewer than 20 people.

Working for a small business offers many benefits, but there are also drawbacks. One of the most significant is the lack of protection workers have when their employer is small. Most federal employment laws apply only to larger companies, which means a small business could conceivably get away with a lot more when it comes to mistreatment of its employees.

As a matter of fact, Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act – the law that protects against discrimination of people in protected classes – only applies to businesses with 15 or more employees that operate on a more-than-seasonal basis. If you work for a company with 14 or fewer employees and/or your employer only operates seasonally, you don’t receive the same protection as those working for larger companies.

Other employment laws have the same limitations, including the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Equal Pay Act. If your employer doesn’t mean certain criteria based on size and gross sales, there is little you can do if your rights are violated.

If you’d like to learn more, Investopedia has more information about federal laws protecting employees.

Unless your employer is based in New York.

The New York Human Rights Law applies to all businesses no matter how small. Originally, it applied to businesses with four or more employees, but Governor Andrew Cuomo expanded it earlier this year to include all employees working in New York State. The law also protects independent contractors, consultants, service providers, and vendors.

An Employment Attorney Helps You Assess Your Situation and Determine If Your Employer is in Violation

This means that anyone working for a business in New York has protection if they experience discrimination or harassment of any kind. Even if your employer is not in compliance and lacks a policy on harassment or discrimination, you are protected. You have access to support outside of the business for which you work and have the right to speak to an attorney about your experience. In some cases, you’ll be eligible for compensation.

If you believe you have been a victim of discrimination or harassment, we can help. We’ll assist you with preparing and filing a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights or a lawsuit in state court. These complaints are the first step in facilitating changes to policies that allow the mistreatment of employees. It also ensures the enforcement of employee protections within the small business community. For more information or to speak to someone about your situation, contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C.


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