Know the Laws: New York
UPDATED July 7, 2014
Being a victim of domestic violence can affect many parts of your life, including your job. Under NY's employment discrimination law, you cannot be discriminated against by an employer due to your status as a domestic violence victim. You may file a complaint against an employer if you feel that s/he has fired you, refused to hire you, or treated you differently than other employees based on your status as a victim of domestic violence. Also, if you have to quit your job due to domestic violence, you may still be entitled to unemployment benefits. The laws that protect you are explained below.
No. Under the law, a person who is a victim of domestic violence cannot be discriminated against by an employer. This means that an employer may not fire you or refuse to hire you solely because you are a victim of domestic violence. Additionally, your employer may not treat you differently than other employees in terms of privileges, benefits, or pay, based on the fact that you are a domestic violence victim.*
Note: This law only applies to employers with four or more employees. However, all the employees do not need to work in the same location.**
* NY Exec Law § 296(1)(a)
** NY Exec Law § 292(5)
It may be difficult to know if the employer is discriminating against you. Here are a few possible situations that could indicate you have been discriminated against:
Example #1: In an interview for a new job, you reveal that you are in an abusive relationship. The employer says something like, “Although you are well-qualified for the position, I am not hiring anyone who can’t stand up for herself and lets someone beat her up.”
Example #2: You are currently employed and your employer regularly allows anyone to take off from work with one day’s notice for personal issues (i.e., if the babysitter cancels or if someone has to bring his/her car in to be fixed). You give one day’s notice and tell the boss you need time off to deal with a domestic violence issue (i.e., to plan a move to a safe place or to go to family court). Your boss refuses to grant you the time off for no good reason.
Example #3: You get an order of protection and show it to your boss. You mention to your boss that you suspect that the abuser may try to come to your workplace or call to look for you. Your boss says that s/he "doesn’t want to deal with that” and fires you.
If you are not sure whether or not you have been discriminated against, you can call or visit the NYS Division of Human Rights office nearest you to speak with a staff member about your situation. You can find information on filing a complaint based on discrimination here and the addresses and phone numbers for the various regional offices here.
No. If you are the victim of a domestic violence crime and you have to miss work to: