Employment Discrimination in New York

Avoid employment discrimination against protected classes in New York.

Federal and state law prohibit New York employers from discriminating against employees based on certain characteristics, such as race or religion. (To learn more, see our page on employment discrimination and harassment.)

What Are the Protected Classes in New York?

In all 50 states, federal law makes it illegal to discriminate based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
  • Disability (physical or mental)
  • Age (40 and older)
  • Citizenship status
  • Genetic information

In addition, New York state law prohibits discrimination based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
  • Disability (physical or mental)
  • Age (18 and older)
  • Genetic characteristics
  • Marital status
  • Familial status (being pregnant, caring for a child under 18, or seeking to adopt a child under 18)
  • Sexual orientation (includes perceived sexual orientation)
  • Gender identity
  • Lawful use of any product or lawful recreational activities when not at work
  • Military status or service
  • Observance of Sabbath
  • Political activities
  • Use of service dog
  • Prior arrests or criminal accusation
  • Prior convictions (unless certain requirements have been met)
  • Domestic violence victim status

Several cities in the U.S. have their own laws protecting additional characteristics or extending protection to more employees. For example, in New York City, it is illegal to discriminate based on credit history. Contact your local government to learn more.

Which New York Employers Must Comply With the Antidiscrimination Laws?

Employers with 15 or more employees are covered by federal antidiscrimination laws, with the following exceptions:

  • age discrimination (employers with 20 or more employees)
  • citizenship status discrimination (employers with four or more employees), and
  • equal pay for men and women (all employers).

New York's antidiscrimination law applies to employers with four or more employees.

What Government Agency Regulates Workplace Discrimination in New York?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that regulates workplace discrimination. You can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by calling 800-669-4000 or check out its website at www.eeoc.gov. The website will help you locate an EEOC field office in New York. (For more information, see our article on how to file an EEOC claim.)

The Division of Human Rights enforces state antidiscrimination law in New York. You can contact the Division of Human Rights at 718-741-8400.

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