NEW YORK CITY BANS EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF “CAREGIVER” STATUS

On January 5, 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law legislation that will amend the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) to protect caregivers from discrimination in the workplace. The NYCHRL already prohibits employment discrimination based on, for example, age, sex, creed, race, color, national original, gender, disability and sexual orientation, among others. This new law adds caregiver to the list. A caregiver, under the law, is defined as “a person who provides direct and ongoing care for a minor child or care recipient” which includes an individual with a disability who is a relative of the caregiver, or a person who resides in the caregiver’s household and relies upon the caregiver for medical care or to meet the needs of daily living.

This new law prohibits employment discrimination on an individual’s actual or perceived status as a caregiver. As such, an applicant’s or employee’s caregiving responsibilities must be excluded from the decision-making process regarding whether to hire, promote, terminate or otherwise affect that individual’s terms and conditions of employment. The purpose of this amendment, as stated by Gale Brewer, Manhattan borough president, is to “combat discrimination on the basis of family responsibilities, which can occur when employees with caregiving responsibilities are treated less favorably due to a perception that they may be less committed to their work because of external obligations.”

In Mayor de Blasio’s press release, he stated, “caregivers are our unsung heroes. They literally keep families together. It’s critical we give them the employment protection they need and deserve.” New York City has some of the most employee-friendly regulations in the country and this new protection is another example of such. The law will take effect on April 14, 2016.

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