Pursuing Justice After Harassment, Discrimination And Retaliation

When going to work, people trust that they will be treated with respect by their co-workers, supervisors and managers. If that trust is violated and your rights are infringed upon, it is hard to know how best to proceed.

I am attorney Joseph Gawlowicz. I am a lawyer who will defend your rights in the workplace. I strive to provide compassionate and knowledgeable representation to individuals in western and central New York who have experienced harassment, discrimination or retaliation. I will work with you to identify the best course of action and help you navigate through this difficult period.

Employee Discrimination And Harassment

It is illegal for employers or people at work to harass, discriminate against or retaliate against someone at work based on their being in what's called a "protected class." There are many protected classes under state and federal law, and you may be in one or more of them, and experiencing hardship at work motivated by that. That's wrong, and I can help.

Under U.S. federal law, protected classes include:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions)
  • Disability (physical or mental)
  • Age (40 and older)
  • Citizenship status
  • Genetic information

Protected classes under New York state law are similar, with more detailed distinctions:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Marital status
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions)
  • Gender identity
  • Disability (physical or mental)
  • Age (18 and older)
  • Genetic characteristics
  • Familial status, including being pregnant, caring for a child under 18 or seeking to adopt a child under age 18
  • Sexual orientation and perceived sexual orientation
  • The lawful use of any product or lawful recreational activities when not at work
  • Military status or service
  • Religious observance of Sabbath
  • Political activities
  • The use of service animal
  • Prior criminal accusations, arrests or prior convictions, unless certain requirements have been met
  • Domestic violence victim status

When harassment, discrimination or retaliation occurs, I am prepared to take action on your behalf and work with you to assert your rights under the applicable laws.


Some employers may retaliate against their workers who file a discrimination or harassment claim, request workers' compensation or are a whistleblower. They may engage in hostile conduct against someone, demote them, refuse to promote them, fail to schedule them for work or even terminate them. I will advocate for your interests if you are facing some form of retaliation.

How Do You Fight Back?

First, contact a skilled employment attorney. There are many complex legal issues unique to every case. I can educate you about your legal rights, and guide you through the processes needed to assert and defend them.

It's important to know that in most cases of harassment, discrimination or retaliation, a victim must file an administrative claim either with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the New York State Division of Human Rights prior to filing a lawsuit in court. Strict time limits apply to different types of cases, depending on the protected class implicated. It's important to file your claim on time, and in many cases as soon as possible, in order to preserve your rights. These agencies conduct initial investigations about whether something illegal has occurred. They also often provide a mechanism and incentive for employers to try to resolve a matter.

Otherwise, these steps lead to fighting the matter through a lawsuit in court. Again, strict rules and time limits will apply. But I treat every case and deal with every employer as though it will be tried before a jury so that employers know the risks that they face if they do not take the matter seriously, if they allow the conduct to continue and if they do not provide appropriate compensation to victims. Once in court, numerous tactics and strategies will apply, depending on the facts of your case. Contact me to learn more about your unique case.

An Attorney Who Will Stand By Your Side

To discuss your options, call me for a free initial phone consultation today. Contact me at 585-340-7766 or by sending my office an email. If you are unable to come to my Rochester office, I may be able to travel to see you.