In New York State, unless you have a contract or are in a union, employment is "at will." An at-will employee can quit work anytime he or she chooses. On the other hand, an at-will employee can also be fired anytime the employer chooses. And the employer can terminate the employee for any reason whatsoever. Just not for the wrong reason. You cannot be fired because of your color, race, national origin, age, disability, religion, gender, marital status or sexual orientation. These are wrong reasons to be fired, even for union members. The law calls these wrong reasons "discrimination." And the law recognizes your right to bring an action for damages if you have been discriminated against by your employer or by the supervisors your employer put over you.
Sometimes, discrimination occurs without being fired. Or even before you're hired. You cannot be denied employment, a salary increase, a promotion, or be treated more harshly than other similarly-situated employees for the wrong reasons either, and you never have to put up with sexual harassment on the job or during the hiring process. It is illegal. Employers are required not only to provide employees with a work environment free from discriminatory conduct, but are forbidden from retaliating against an employee who attempts to complain or report employment discrimination or sexual harassment to supervisors. Being an at-will employee is not the same as being at the mercy of your boss. There are some rules.
Employees who have been discriminated against may be entitled to pursue claims for damages against their employers for violation of state and federal anti-discrimination laws. A successful claim for employment discrimination or sexual harassment may include an award of money damages, job reinstatement, back and front pay and even punitive damages. Factors such as the size of your employer's business (the number of people who work there), the type of business it is and where it's located, as well as the specific acts of discrimination claimed, determine the type of action to bring, where to bring it and the damages recoverable.
There are strict time frames within which claims for employment discrimination must be made. If you were discriminated against by your employer, by a potential employer or were subject to work-place sexual harassment, you may have a cause of action.
If you were fired or not hired for the wrong reason, you can make it right.
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