Are you responsible for caring for a child or a spouse with an illness? Has your employer treated you differently than other employees because you are a caregiver? The skilled NYC discrimination attorneys at Lipsky Lowe LLP are here to help. We have an in-depth legal knowledge of New York City’s Caregiver Status Discrimination law. After listening to the details of your unique story, we will consider the facts in your case and advise you as to your best options. If you have a claim, we can help you fight for your rights as an employee who is also a caregiver.
What Is the Caregiver Status Discrimination Law in New York City?
In 2016, the New York City Commission on Human Rights issued new protections for employees and job applicants who are caregivers. The law ensures that employers cannot treat employees with caregiving responsibilities differently than any other employees. In other words, employers cannot discriminate against employees who are caregivers because of their status as caregivers.
Which Employees And Job Applicants Qualify As Caregivers Under The NYC Law?
The New York City statute defines a caregiver as “a person who provides direct and ongoing care for a minor child or a care recipient.” A minor child is a biological, foster, or adopted child, or legal ward of the employee or a child for whom the caregiver is standing in loco parentis.
Who Qualifies As a Care Recipient?
A care recipient is a person with a disability who is the employee’s covered relative. A care recipient can also be someone who lives in the home of the caregiver. The care recipient must also rely on the caregiver to meet his or her daily living needs or for his or her medical care.
Who Qualifies As a Covered Relative?
The New York Human rights law defines a covered relative broadly. A covered relative could be one of the following relatives of the caregivers:
- Domestic Partner
- The caregiver’s spouse or domestic partner’s child or parent
- Any other individual who is in a familial relationship with the caregiver.
What Constitutes “Direct And Ongoing Care”?
The NYC Commission on Human Rights recently released a fact sheet for employees and employers that fleshes out the caregiver discrimination law. The fact sheet provides hypothetical situations but it does not give a precise definition of direct and ongoing care.
The law protects caregivers or family members who have illnesses or a disability. If you are wondering whether caring for a relative who has an illness makes you a caregiver, contact our NYC employment law firm. Our caregiver discrimination legal experts will discuss your case with you and guide you as you your rights.
What Do Employers Need to Know About NYC’s Caregiver Discrimination Law?
Employers Cannot Give Poor Performance Reviews Based On Caregiving Absences
In the first hypothetical, the employer allows all of its employees to take off five sick days per year. An employee used five sick days to care for her child, who became hospitalized for asthma. During the employee’s performance evaluation, the employer told the employee that it is not acceptable to take a whole week off of work to care for her child. The employer stated that even though he had no performance-based criticism of the employee, the employee must find someone else to care for her child in the future.
Employers cannot give negative work reviews merely because an employee misses work to act as a caregiver. When giving a performance evaluation, employers should focus on the actual performance of the employee.
Employers Must Give Employees Accommodations Regardless of Their Caregiver Status
In the second hypothetical, a woman works as a medical assistant. Her husband receives a cancer diagnosis. The woman asks her office manager if she can come in an hour late three days a week after she takes her husband to and from his chemotherapy appointments. The office manager tells her no. Later, the woman sees another medical assistant arriving to work late after training for a New York City marathon. The company wrongfully gave one employee accommodation but denied another employee the same accommodation because she is a caregiver.
Employers Should Not Deny Promotions Based Solely On Caregiver Status
In the third hypothetical, a company passes over an employee for a promotion because he lives with and cares for an elderly friend with diabetes. Though the employee is well-qualified, the company denied him a managerial position because of his commitments outside of work as a caregiver. According to the NYC Commission on human rights, denying someone a promotion for which they are qualified because of their known caregiver status violates the caregiver discrimination law.
What Accommodations Must Employers Make to Avoid Violating the Law?
Many scenarios might arise in the workforce that could constitute caregiver discrimination. What if an employer denies a caregiver accommodation request but the decision is not based on the caregiver status of the employee? Employers have valid reasons to deny some accommodations that don’t include intending to discriminate based on caregiver status.
Nonetheless, the New York City Human Rights Law dictates that NYC judges interpret the law’s provisions broadly and consider the legislative history of the new law when coming to decisions.
Contact Our New York City Caregiver Status Discrimination Attorney
If you are an employee who faced caregiver discrimination by an employer, we can help you fight for your rights. If you are a business owner or manager who wants to bring your practices into compliance with this law, our experienced employment law attorneys are here to help. Contact us to set up your free consultation.