Victims of domestic violence will now be further protected in New York State. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law amending the New York Human Rights Law on August 20, 2019, which expands the already existing protections for domestic violence victims.
Status as Victim of Domestic Violence Defined
The law changes the terminology from “domestic violence victim status” to “status as a victim of domestic violence,” and broadens the definition of the protected class to include a person over the age of 16, that is married or a parent accompanied by his or her minor child or children in situations in which such person or such person’s child is a victim of an act which would constitute a violation of the penal law where such acts:
Unlawful Discrimination Prohibited
It is an unlawful practice for an employer with respect to victims of domestic violence:
Reasonable Accommodations Required
Employers are further required to provide victims of domestic violence a reasonable accommodation in the form of absence from work for a reasonable time, unless such absence would cause an “undue hardship” to the employer. Employers are permitted to require an employee to charge any time off against any leave with pay ordinarily granted, where available, unless otherwise provided for in a collective bargaining agreement or existing handbook or policy. Any absence that cannot be charged may be treated as leave without pay. Employees that take such leave are entitled to continuation of any health insurance coverage provided by the employer, to which the employee is otherwise entitled during any such absence.
Circumstances Justifying Leave
Employees must be afforded a reasonable accommodation in the form of reasonable leave in the following circumstances:
Undue Hardship Standard
A determination of whether such an absence will constitute an undue hardship shall include consideration of factors such as:
Leave Notice Requirements
An employee who must be absent from work due to the above mentioned circumstances must provide the employer with reasonable advance notice of the employee’s absence, unless such advance notice is not feasible. If the employee cannot feasibly give reasonable advance notice of the absence, the employee must within a reasonable time after the absence, provide a certification to the employer when requested by the employer.
If an employer requires a certification such certification shall be in the form of:
Where an employee has a physical or mental disability resulting from an incident or series of incidents of domestic violence, such employee shall be treated in the same manner as an employee with any other disability, pursuant to the provisions of this section, which provide that discrimination and refusal to provide reasonable accommodation of disability are unlawful discriminatory practices. To the extent allowed by law, employers shall maintain the confidentiality of any information regarding an employee’s status as a victim of domestic violence.
This amendment goes into effect on November 18, 2019.
Goldberg Segalla advises employers to revisit their employment handbooks and leave policies to make sure they are compliant with state and federal law. Employers should also train managers on this amendment.
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