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The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, gender (which includes discrimination as a result of a pregnancy) and religion. In 1967 Age Discrimination in employment was added to the groups of protected classes. The Disabilities Act of 1990 added mental and physical disabilities. The rights are interpreted and enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

New York State has long prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, gender and religion and often its laws are more expansive than Federal law. New York State also prohibits discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation as well as the other classes employment, housing, public accommodation, education, and the exercise of civil rights.

The EEOC is authorized to file judicial actions.

AGE DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) prohibits age discrimination against persons age 40 years or older. Enforcement responsibilities were transferred to the EEOC in 1978. Mandatory retirement was prohibited and the protected age class was extended to include persons up to the age of 70.

EQUAL PAY

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 provides that men and women who perform equal work for an employer must receive equal pay unless the difference in pay is explainable by a meritorious seniority system, a merit system, or a system that measures quantity or quality of performance or for any other reasonable standard not based on gender. The criteria are fixed by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Enforcement is delegated to the EEOC.

EQUAL PROPERTY AND CONTRACT RIGHTS

All persons have the same rights to make and enforce contacts. Raced based discrimination in hiring on firing practices is barred. All benefits, privileges, terms and conditions of contractual relationships must be equal among all races and ethnic groups. This Act is not restricted to employment contracts but in fact extends to any contract of whatever kind and/or description. No administrative exhaustion of remedies is imposed. Damages are also unlimited.

FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE

All eligible employees are entitled up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12 month period if one of the below applies:

  1. the birth of a child;
  2. adoption or providing foster care for a child;
  3. a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the position;
  4. necessary care for a spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition.

During the 12 week period, the employer is obliged to maintain the employee’s existing health care benefits and to restore the employee to the position at the end of the leave without reduction of benefits. Employees may not be retaliated against for asserting these rights.

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