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NY State Division of Human Rights Prohibits Discrimination Based on Relation or Association

June 10, 2016

The New York State Division of Human Rights recently adopted new regulations that prohibit discrimination based on a relationship or association with members of a protected class (race, color, creed, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or other protected characteristic of their family members or associates). 

The new regulations now define the term “unlawful discriminatory practice” to include workplace discrimination and harassment on the basis of an individual’s known relationship or association with a member or members of a protected category covered under the Human Rights Law. To prove a claim of discrimination, complainants must establish that they have been subjected to an adverse action because of such a known relationship or association.

The new regulations reflect federal case law that provides anti-discrimination protection to individuals who are associated with members of a protected class. See, e.g., Thompson v. North American Stainless, LP, 562 U.S. 170 (2011).

Employers in New York State should review their policies to ensure compliance with the adopted regulations — and when considering any adverse employment action, employers should be aware of the possibility of a discrimination claim under the Human Rights Law based on the employee’s relationship or association with a member of a protected class. 

Should you have any questions about the new regulations, please contact: