Reports of discrimination and harassment in workplaces across the country have increased in recent years as our nation’s workforce has become more diverse. Employers in New York are governed by a myriad of Federal, State and Local laws that prohibit covered employers from discriminating against employees. Contrary to common belief, not all discrimination is prohibited. Only discrimination based on statutorily “protected characteristics” is protected under the law. This section is designed to provide a general overview of the laws governing workplace discrimination and harassment, identify the protected characteristics and address an employer’s obligation to accommodate qualified persons with disabilities or bona fide religious beliefs. This section does not constitute legal advice and an employer should consult with an attorney regarding specific discrimination and harassment questions.