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Old 05-03-2016, 01:37 AM
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Lightbulb NYC Expands Human Rights Law to Prohibit Employment Discrimination Against Caregivers

New York City Expands Human Rights Law to Prohibit
Employment Discrimination Against Caregivers

Earlier this month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation
that expands the New York City Human Rights Law, making New York City the
latest municipality to protect caregivers from discrimination in their
terms or conditions of employment.2 The amendments take effect May 4,

While several states, including New York, Minnesota, and Oregon, prohibit
discrimination on the basis of "familial" status, the New York City law
goes beyond protecting the status of being pregnant or having minor
children,4 and prohibits discrimination in employment against anyone
because they provide direct and ongoing care for a minor or other covered
"care recipient."

The amendments add "caregiver" as a protected class under the New York
City Administrative Code, and prohibit employers from discriminating based
on one's status as a caregiver or perceived status as a caregiver.
Protected classes already covered under the New York City Human Rights Law
include actual or perceived age, race, creed, color, national origin,
gender, disability, marital status, partnership status, sexual orientation
or alienage or citizenship status of any person.6


The nested definitions under the amendments are critical to their
protections. A "caregiver" means "a person who provides direct and
ongoing care for a minor child or care recipient." A "care recipient"
means a person with a disability who (i) is a "covered relative" or (ii)
is a person who resides in the caregivers' household. A "covered
relative" is broadly defined as a caregiver's "child, spouse, domestic
partner, parent, sibling, grandchild or grandparent, or the child or
parent of the caregiver's spouse or domestic partner, or any other
individual in a familial relationship with the caregiver as designated by
the rules of the Commission."7

Thus, persons falling in the protected category include anyone who
provides ongoing care for a minor, any disabled relative and any
non-relative who lives in the caregiver's household. However, the
amendments do not protect non-family-member caregivers or home companions
employed to work or live in the home of a disabled person to whom they
provide ongoing care.

Prohibited Conduct

As with other protected classes under the New York City Human Rights Law,
employers cannot discriminate on the basis of caregiver status in
decisions as to hiring, compensation or the terms and conditions of
employment. Employment agencies are prohibited from discriminating
against persons with caregiver responsibilities in handling applications
or in referring applicants to employers. Labor organizations are
prohibited from excluding, expelling from their membership, or otherwise
discriminating against individuals because of their caregiver status.
Employers, employment agencies and labor organizations may not circulate
any advertisement or solicitation, use any employment application, or make
any inquiry in connection with employment that expresses any limitation or
discriminates based on caregiver status.

Takeaways for New York City Employers

a.. The amendments protecting caregivers from discrimination are
intended to prohibit employers, employment agencies or labor unions from
refusing to hire, or from rejecting, excluding, terminating, demoting,
refusing to promote or otherwise treating individuals unfavorably in
their terms or conditions of employment because they have caregiver
b.. The caregiver protections do not prevent employers from holding
employees with caregiver obligations to the same attendance, punctuality
or performance standards as other employees. Individuals with caregiver
responsibilities still must be able to perform the essential functions
of their job.
c.. The New York City law does not contain a "flexible scheduling"
requirement to accommodate caregivers, as the San Francisco law does.8
Enforcement Guidance from the New York City Commission on Human Rights
is expected before the statute takes effect in May. In implementing
this statute, the City Commission may interpret the law as requiring
employers to consider caregiver employees' scheduling requests as a
reasonable accommodation if they do not present an undue hardship, and
do not prevent the employees from performing the essential duties of
their jobs. For now, employers should treat leave of absence and
flexible schedule requests to accommodate an employee's caregiver
responsibilities with the same consideration as they would such
scheduling accommodation and leave of absence requests for childcare
d.. Human resources and recruiting personnel should be educated
regarding the protections for caregivers. Training should also be
provided to management and supervisors who may be hiring persons with
caregiver responsibilities or receiving caregiver accommodation
e.. Employment and recruiting policies and employment handbooks should
be reviewed to ensure they do not contain unnecessary restrictions on
employees' outside commitments or off-the-job whereabouts.
Employers who need guidance regarding applying these new protections
should consult with experienced employment counsel prior to the amendments
taking effect on May 4, 2016.
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