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Some takeaways from a seminal NY employment law

A lot of states have protective legislation that augments parallel federal laws in their safeguarding of employees’ workplace rights.

Few have statutory provisions that are as entrenched and extensive as those that exist in the New York State Human Rights Law, though.

Indeed, New York State has continued to expand its legislation that precedes any law similarly enacted anywhere else in the United States.

A New York State government website duly notes its creation a full 76 years ago. It stresses that back in 1945 “New York State became the first state in the nation to enact legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment based on color, creed and national origin.”

In fact, the NYSHRL draws a protective wagon around far more demographic categories than those few enumerated classifications. Here are a few examples:

  • Coverage applicable to employers large and small, not just those with a threshold number of workers;
  • Lower bar of proof than what previously existed for workers seeking to establish discriminatory workplace harassment based on sex;
  • Expanded protected classifications including sexual orientation, gender identity, military status and more; and
  • Expanded opportunities for the recovery of attorney’s fees and punitive damages.