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Legal Information: New York

Workplace Protections

November 9, 2020

If I am a victim of domestic violence, how do I know if an employer’s actions are based on discrimination?

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.