Discriminated Employees Benefit from Landmark Manhattan Decision

A recent court decision in the matter of Williams v. New York City Housing Authority has made it even easier for discriminated-against parties in the city of New York to sue their employers.

Even prior to the verdict in Williams, New York City’s human rights law was already widely seen as far more liberal than both State and Federal guidelines. In Williams, the Court interpreted the local Civil Rights Restoration Act of 2005 to expansively redefine the obligations of both employers and employees when it comes to on the job harassment.

The new interpretation will likely have profound consequences for corporate cultures in NYC.  For instance, a NYC employee used to be able to file a discrimination claim only after being the victim of protracted and pervasive harassment.  

Under the new guidelines, however, an employee can file a claim for practically any harassment in excess of “petty slights” and “trivial inconveniences.”  Moreover, it’s the employer’s responsibility–not the employee’s–to prove that the harassing conduct was indeed petty/trivial.

The Williams decision has already rippled through the New York City business community and led to institutional changes. Word of mouth reports, for instance, suggest that city officials have seen a marked uptick in the number of discrimination filings.

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