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Articles Posted in Sex Discrimination

When an employee is subject to discrimination in the workplace, it is often actionable under state and federal law. Additionally, if the party engaging in the discriminatory activity is a public employer, it may be considered a violation of the employee’s civil rights. In a recent New York case in which the plaintiff alleged claims of sex discrimination and hostile work environment, the court discussed what a plaintiff alleging civil rights violations in the workplace must prove to recover damages. If you work for a public employer in New York and are subject to discrimination in the workplace, it is advisable to contact a trusted New York employment discrimination attorney to discuss your rights.

Factual Background

It is reported that the plaintiff worked for defendant County as a corrections officer. In 2011 the plaintiff took an examination for promotion. Individuals who took the exam were ranked according to score, and those with the highest scores were promoted when positions became available. The scores were valid for four years, but during the four-year period, twenty men and no women received promotions. Thus, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant alleging sex discrimination and a hostile work environment created by the preferential treatment of women who were in relationships with male officers, which created a de facto policy of discrimination for which the County should be held liable. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, which the court granted. The plaintiff then appealed.

Sex Discrimination in Violation of the Fourteenth Amendment

A public employee subject to sex discrimination in violation of his or her Fourteenth Amendment rights can pursue claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against his or her employer, which essentially alleges that his or her civil rights were violated under the color of law. Under § 1983, a municipality will only be held liable if the plaintiff’s rights were deprived because of government policy, custom, or usage of the municipality. Municipal liability may be established not only by showing a formal policy but also through a final decision made by a policymaker or where a widespread practice is so settled and permanent that it becomes policy with the force of law. Isolated acts of a non-policymaking person can be grounds for liability as well, if it was done pursuant to municipal policy or if the acts were so widespread, they constituted a policy or custom.

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Although sexual orientation is not explicitly listed as a class protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII), people who suffer discrimination in the workplace due to their sexual orientation can pursue claims against their employers for violating Title VII. As with any discrimination claim, however, it is essential for a plaintiff seeking damages for discrimination based on sexual orientation to comply with statutory deadlines, otherwise he or she may run the risk of waiving the right to recover damages. In a recent case, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York discussed when a failure to file an employment discrimination lawsuit within the proscribed time period may be excused. If you suffered discrimination at work due to your sexual orientation, it is advisable to contact a seasoned New York employment discrimination attorney to discuss your case.

Factual History

It is alleged that the plaintiff, who self-identifies as a gay man, worked for the defendant as a social worker. He alleged that he was subject to discrimination and retaliation and was ultimately terminated due to his sexual orientation. As such, he filed discrimination charges with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, after which he received a right to sue letter, which stated he had 90 days to file a lawsuit. After receipt of the letter, he attempted to find an attorney for a few weeks but did not secure representation. He then began suffering anxiety and depression over his inability to retain an attorney, which rendered him unable to focus on the task.

It is reported that prior to the end of the 90-day period, the defendant was stabbed by his roommate. He was hospitalized for two weeks after the stabbing, and the 90-day period ran during his hospitalization. He ultimately engaged an attorney and filed his lawsuit 21 days after the 90-day period ran. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to F.R.C.P.12(b)(6), arguing that the plaintiff’s complaint was untimely.

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