Workplace discrimination cases unlikely to see trial

A number of cases dealing with the legality of firing workers based on their gender identities and sexual orientations have been heard by the Supreme Court. The difficulty of litigating claims may be more important to New York workers than the legality or illegality of certain actions. According to a study that looked at roughly 1,800 federal lawsuits from 1988 to 2003, only around 6% of civil rights actions make it to trial. The study included cases alleging race, disability and age discrimination, as well as sex discrimination.

Of the cases in the study that went to trial, only around 33% were won by the plaintiff. Some recent decisions by the Supreme Court have made it more difficult for the plaintiff to bring and win a civil rights action. This is despite there being strong evidence of sex discrimination in the working world generally. According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, women make 80 cents for each dollar men make. University research indicates that men are more likely by 25% to get a raise when they ask.

Research also indicates that women are less likely to be hired initially and less likely to be promoted once they have been hired. In a study where interviewees were behind a screen to hide their gender, the likelihood that a woman would be hired increased by 50%. Another study found that women are less likely by 28% to attain the role of CEO of a corporation.

Employers in New York are prohibited from discriminating against potential hires or employees based on their sex. In cases where a person believes he or she has been affected by discrimination in the workplace, an attorney might be able to help by interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence to build a case. An attorney might be able to negotiate a settlement or file a complaint for damages in civil court.

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