Is discrimination based on domestic violence illegal in New York?

If you are a victim of domestic violence, it can affect many parts of your life. Unfortunately, this sometimes can include your job. Sadly, some employers may use your status as a victim to discriminate against you. Although you may think that you have no recourse in such a situation, this is definitely not the case. Under both New York City and state laws, you have strong legal protections against domestic violence discrimination.

What protections are available?

Under the New York State Human Rights Law, it is illegal for an employer (with four or more employees) to refuse to hire or fire you solely because of your status as a domestic violence victim. Additionally, employers cannot use your status as a domestic violence victim as a reason to treat you differently in terms of pay, benefits, privileges or other conditions of employment. Generally, for the protections of this law to apply, the perpetrator of the domestic violence must be a member of the same family or household as the victim (which includes anyone the victim had a child with, regardless of whether they are married).

Additionally, the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) provides more detailed and broader protections than New York State law to employees in New York City. Under this law, employers (with four or more employees) may not refuse to hire, fire or discriminate against you based on your actual or perceived status as a victim of domestic violence, sex offenses or stalking. Protections under this law are not limited to abuse arising within a marital relationship. In addition to current spouses, discrimination following instances of domestic violence, sex offenses or stalking is prohibited if the perpetrator is:

· A former spouse

· A person with whom the victim shares a child

· A person that currently or formerly cohabitating with the victim

· A person who is or has been in a continuing social, romantic or intimate relationship with the victim

· A person who is or has been living in the victim’s household at regular intervals

In addition to prohibiting discrimination, NYCHRL requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to assist victims of domestic violence, stalking or sex offenses in performing the essential requirements of the job.

Contact an attorney

If you believe that you have been discriminated against as a victim of domestic violence, stalking or a sex offense, it is important to take quick action to learn about and protect your rights. The experienced employment law attorneys at Serrins Fisher LLP can explain your rights to you and work on your behalf to pursue the legal remedies available under the law. Call us today for a free consultation.

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