According to the New York Post, Sandra Petersen filed a lawsuit against New York City for alleged workplace discrimination. The 4-foot-8 Bronx woman claims she was fired from her job as a Parks Department janitor in Queens, New York because a city job counselor thought she was too short to do the job.
“Employment discrimination laws are complex. When the concept of ‘indirect discrimination’ like height and weight is considered, the legal issues become even more complex,” said David Perecman, a New York employment discrimination lawyer for over 30 years.
Peterson had been working in the Parks Department for over 8 months before she asked counselor Louis Marchi about switching her assignment. Petersen hoped to work as a home health aide.
According to Peterson, Marchi replied to her transfer request with: ‘You’re too short. Are you sure you’re working for Parks?’
In her lawsuit, Petersen is claiming that the counselor eventually got her fired from Parks and she is now seeking financial compensation for the alleged employment discrimination.
According to Perecman, there have been successful legal battles pursued against height discrimination in the workplace. If height is not a valid requirement for the job, having a height policy constitutes illegal employment discrimination. However, using height as a workplace discrimination does not always violate the employment discrimination laws.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 declares that all persons within the U.S. have a right to employment free from workplace discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. But, as New York employment discrimination lawyer Perecman points out, it does not specifically protect against height discrimination in the workplace. New York State law goes beyond federal law in prohibiting job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but it also does not call out height as a workplace discrimination.
The city Law Department had no immediate comment on the alleged incident of job discrimination.
Perecman fights for workplace fairness and the rights of people who have been the victims of workplace discrimination, harassment based on gender, ethnicity or race, and other civil rights violations in the workplace.