Expansion of Rights of Victims of Domestic Violence

Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a new legislation (Bill A05618) to the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) for protecting the rights of the women who are victims of domestic violence. This new law expands protections in favor of employees who are suffering from domestic violence, and will take effect on November 18, 2019.


The NYSHRL has widened the definition of “victim of domestic violence” to make it consistent with the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (NY Soc. Serv. L § 459-A). New section 292 (34).


Contrary to NYSHRL’s prohibition of discrimination against victims of domestic violence, the amendments explicitly state that certain acts are illegal practices with regard to victims of domestic violence. For instance, refusing to hire or dismissing such victims or discrimination based on compensation or other terms, conditions, or privileges of employment [amendment to § 296 of NYSHRL as § 22 (a)]; circulating or utilizing a job posting, employment application, or other publication expressing any limitation, specification, or discrimination in hiring or employment based on the victim’s status [amendment to § 296 of NYSHRL as § 22 (b)].


Additionally, the employers of New York State would be obliged to provide such victims a reasonable time off from work as a matter of accommodation with the purpose of seeking medical attention for injuries suffered [amendment to § 296 of NYSHRL as § 22 (c) (2) (i)]; obtaining services from a domestic violence shelter, program, or rape crisis center, or any psychological counseling [amendment to § 296 of NYSHRL as § 22 (c) (2) (ii)-(iii)]; participating in safety planning or to take other precautionary actions to increase safety from future similar incidents [amendment to § 296 of NYSHRL as § 22 (c) (2) (iv)]; and/or obtaining legal services in relation to the incident of domestic violence [amendment to § 296 of NYSHRL as § 22 (c) (2) (v)].


The employers have to provide the requested leave to employee’s disability unless the employee’s absence would create an undue hardship on the business. [Amendment to § 296 of NYSHRL as § 22 (c) (3)]


The health insurance coverage of the employee shall continue during such absence. [Amendment to § 296 of NYSHRL as § 22 (c) (1)]


Employees are duty bound to give advance notice to employer for the leave if possible [amendment to § 296 of NYSHRL as § 22 (c) (4)], otherwise, a certificate for the need of leave could be given in form of a police report, a court order, or a documentation from a medical professional, advocate, or counselor [amendment to § 296 of NYSHRL as § 22 (c) (5) (i)-(iv)]. It is also the employer’s duty to keep such kind of information confidential for not causing any prejudice to the employee’s status as a victim of domestic violence. [Amendment to § 296 of NYSHRL as § 22 (d)].

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