Discrimination on the basis of an employee’s sexual orientation has long been illegal under the New York Human Rights Law, but not under federal Title VII. However, that all changed in February 2018 when the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed its prior decisions and found that Title VII does bar sexual orientation.
The case involved the estate of a skydiving instructor who claimed he was fired for telling a customer he was gay. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has advocated for this interpretation of Title VII for many years, and the en banc (entire) Second Circuit agreed, with only three judges filing a dissent.
The remedies available under the Human Rights Law and Title VII are different, so potential plaintiffs or defendants should consult with counsel immediately.