Our country is going through a time where more people are embracing their sexuality. This is exciting, but there have been some problems with people becoming more open. It’s important to know that your sexuality is your choice, and it should not have any effect on your employment. Whether you are straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual you should have the same rights in your workplace like your colleagues.

Gary Falkowitz is a sexual orientation discrimination lawyer that has successfully handled many of these cases. There are laws in place to protect workers from being victims of many different types of discrimination in their place of work. If you feel like you are being targeted because of your sexual preferences, you should contact us immediately. We will work with you to efficiently file your discrimination claim against your employer.


What protection is there for employees against sexual orientation discrimination?

The Sexual Orientation Discrimination Act (SONDA) prohibits employers and fellow workers from discriminating against a person on the basis of their sexual orientation. This act also protects individuals from being discriminated against when seeking housing, education, credit, as well as public accommodations. New York has prohibited many different types of discrimination for years, and they recently added sexual orientation to this list. You have Civil Rights as an American, which means you should be treated equally regardless of race, gender, age, or religion. Your personal choices should not affect your quality of life, especially at work.


How long as the SONDA been in effect?

The Sexual Orientation Discrimination Act went into effect in 2003 and was signed by the Governor in 2002. The act has almost been protecting individuals suffering from this type of discrimination for the last decade.


How is sexual orientation defined in the law?

According to SONDA, sexual orientation can be heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or asexuality. SONDA protects you even if your sexuality is perceived and isn’t accurate. For example, say that you are heterosexual, but your employer thinks you’re homosexual. You are then discriminated against because everyone things that you are gay. Even though you aren’t gay, you still receive protection under SONDA for this discrimination. A good rule of thumb to remember is that any form of sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace is illegal.


What kind of legal protection does the SONDA provide?

SONDA protects all individuals against discrimination of actual or perceived sexual orientation in many different areas. Some of which include:

  • Employment
  • Ability to use public facilities, amusement parks, or resorts
  • Ability to enter and attend educational institutions
  • Living in public housing
  • Commercial spaces and other accommodations for private housing
  • Approval or denial of credit

Your civil rights ensure that you can go through most facets of your life without discrimination. Civil Rights are those rights to citizens that guarantee your right to vote, serve on a jury, and the right to be free from discrimination in certain areas. Whether you have been targeted in your workplace, or when trying to rent an apartment, we’re here for you. Contact us today if you feel like you have been the victim of sexual orientation discrimination.


What are the exceptions to the Sexual Orientation Discrimination Act?

There are some exceptions to this act, specifically when religious or charitable institutions are involved. Organizations that are supervised, operated, or controlled by a religious group are able:

  • To limit employment, rentals or sales of houses (or other accommodations) to individuals of the same religion.
  • To give preference to people of the same denomination or religion.
  • To take appropriate action to establish, maintain, and promote their religious principles.

So, discrimination based on housing would not exist in this instance. Just like you are allowed to have your own beliefs, those of religious groups are allowed to have theirs. They are not required to do anything that is in conflict with their beliefs, including accommodating transgender people.


Are transgender people protected by SONDA?

The SONDA protects anyone in the state that is a victim of sexual discrimination. So, you are protected whether you are transgender, straight, bi, gay, or asexual. The Human Rights Law also prohibits any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Every citizen is allowed to work, live, and attend school without worry of being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.


I’ve been discriminated against, now what?

If you think that you have been a victim of sexual orientation identity discrimination, you can file:

A discrimination charge with the New York State Division of Human Rights or a local human rights agency. This must be within 1 year of the date of the most recent act of discrimination.

Or, you can file a complaint in State Court within three years of the most recent act of discrimination.

You can choose either of these options, as well as filing a complaint with the New York State Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau. Filing with the Attorney General does not affect the statutes of limitations of other filing options. You must file within 1 or 3 years, depending on what you choose.


What happens if I file with the State Division?

The State Division will investigate your claim to determine if it has merit. If your claim is found to be valid, there will be a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. There is no fee to file, but we recommend that you hire an experienced attorney.


What relief is available to victims of sexual orientation discrimination?

Each case is different, but your lawyer can seek compensation for lost wages and benefits. If you have faced harassment you could also seek punitive damages. Discrimination cases are complicated, so you would need to discuss your options with your attorney.

If you have faced discrimination in your life because of your sexual orientation, we want to help. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!