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What is a “Protected Class” in Employment Law?

In the context of employment law, one of the most important legal ideas to understand is that of the “protected class.” This term has been the source of some controversy, but it is essential to understanding how employment discrimination cases work. But what exactly is a protected class, and how do you know if you belong to one?

Defining “Protected Classes”

Put in simple terms, a protected class refers to a group of people who are recognized as having been the traditional victims of discrimination. These include members of certain racial and religious minorities, as well as women and people with disabilities, all of whom have historically faced discrimination in the workplace. People who are members of protected classes have a much easier time demonstrating that they have been the victims of discrimination, or that they have been subject to discriminatory work policies.

Types of Protected Classes

There are many types of people who qualify as being members of protected classes under American federal law. These include, but are not limited to: black people, Latinos, women, people with disabilities, Jews, Muslims, and Native Americans, among others. In addition, New York State law recognizes other protected classes of individuals, such as veterans, LGBT people, the elderly, and those who have been victims of domestic abuse. However, even someone who does not belong to a traditionally recognized protected class may be able to bring a discrimination claim, depending on the nature of the discrimination they have suffered.

The Legal Importance of Protected Classes

Legally speaking, it is important to determine if someone belongs to a protected class of individuals, because it is foundational to the legal inquiry about whether someone has been discriminated against. If you allege that you have been the victim of discrimination, you must be able to show how and why you were discriminated against, which means showing what group you belong to that might have made you a target of discrimination. This, in turn, leads to a further inquiry about the conduct of your employer and whether you may have been discriminated against.

What to Do if You are the Victim of Discrimination

    If you have been the victim of discrimination, or you were retaliated againt by your employer for reporting discrimination, you should contact a lawyer with experience handling employment law matters. They can help you evaluate your case and determine what the best strategy going forward might be. The sooner you call, the sooner they can get to work getting you the compensation you deserve.

If you have gotten into a legal dispute with your employer, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced New York employment lawyer who can protect your legal rights and advocate on your behalf. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 40 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. To schedule an appointment with New York City employment lawyer Steven Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000 or visit his contact page.

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