Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Status as a Victim of Domestic Violence is Now a Protected Class in New York State

Attention Employers in New York State: Governor Cuomo signed bill S1040 into law extending protections against discrimination in the workplace to victims of domestic violence.

The new law prohibits an employer from hiring or firing an employee or otherwise discriminating against an employee in compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment because of such employee's status as a victim of domestic violence. The law also requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodations to an employee who is known by the employer to be a victim of domestic violence, unless providing an accommodation would cause an "undue hardship" to the employer.

Reasonable accommodations for victims of domestic violence are limited to: seeking medical attention; obtaining services from a domestic violence shelter, program or rape crisis center; obtaining psychological counseling or legal services; and, taking safety measures to increase protections against future incidents of domestic violence (e.g. relocation). Time off as a result of such accommodation may be charged against the employee's paid time-off (per law and/or employer's policy). If paid time off is unavailable, an employer may treat such absence as leave without pay.

Employers should immediately update their handbooks, policies, and discrimination prevention trainings to comply with this new law.

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