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New York City Human Rights Law Offers New Protections-for Caregivers

If you work or intern full-time or part-time, with or without pay, within the five boroughs of New York City, for an employer with four or more employees, and have caregiving responsibilities at home, such as caring for kids (including adopted or foster kids) under the age of 18, caring for parents, siblings, spouses, grandparents, or grandchildren with a disability, then you are protected from workplace discrimination against caregivers based on a May 14, 2016 amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law.

According to the New York City Commission on Human Rights, employees without work authorization documents, job applicants and most independent contractors are also protected from caregiver discrimination.

Based on this amendment, employers cannot refuse to hire fire, or otherwise discriminate against job applicants or employees in the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of their caregiving responsibilities. Still, employers don’t have to accommodate caregivers’ responsibilities and obligations, by changing a shift, or allowing the caregiver to leave work early on account of caregiving responsibilities, unless these accommodations and benefits are provided to other employees.

This amendment is positively impacting individuals in New York City who take care of “1.8 million children under the age of 18, 1 million people aged 65 or order, and roughly 900,000 people with disabilities” by providing them recourse to file workplace discrimination claims if their rights are violated.

As Mayor de Blasio stated, “Caregivers are the people who keep families together. It is critical that New York City protects them so they can continue to provide essential care to the children, elderly people, and individuals with disabilities who rely on them to lead happy and healthy lives. No one deserves to be treated differently or denied opportunities in the workplace because of their status as a caregiver. [Today], these unsung heroes receive direct protection under the law.”