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Domestic Violence Victim Status Discrimination

Pospis Law offers representation to employees who have been discriminated against on the basis of their status as a victim of domestic violence, sex offenses, or stalking.

The New York State Human Rights Law makes it an unlawful discriminatory practice:

For an employer or licensing agency, because of an individual’s … domestic violence victim status, to refuse to hire or employ or to bar or to discharge from employment such individual or to discriminate against such individual in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment. [N.Y. Exec. Law § 296(1)(a)]

Section 292 of that law, in turn, defines “domestic violence victim” as “an individual who is a victim of an act which would constitute a family offense pursuant to [Family Court Act § 812(1)].”

The New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) provides more detailed and broader protections, which are codified in section 8-107.1 of the New York City Administrative Code (titled “Victims of Domestic Violence, Sex Offenses or Stalking”). Specifically, the NYCHRL makes it an unlawful discriminatory practice

for an employer, or an agent thereof, to refuse to hire or employ or to bar or to discharge from employment, or to discriminate against an individual in compensation or other terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of the actual or perceived status of said individual as a victim of domestic violence, or as a victim of sex offenses or stalking.

The law is not limited to abuse arising in the marital relationship, and broadly defines “victim of domestic violence” as

a person who has been subjected to acts or threats of violence, not including acts of self defense, committed by a current or former spouse of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim, by a person who is or has been in a continuing social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim, or a person who is or has continually or at regular intervals lived in the same household as the victim.

In addition to preventing outright discrimination, the NYCHRL also requires employers to

make a reasonable accommodation to enable a person who is a victim of domestic violence, or a victim of sex offenses or stalking to satisfy the essential requisites of a job provided that the status of a victim of domestic violence or a victim of sex offenses or stalking is known or should have been known by the covered entity.

Conduct that may implicate the State and City Human Rights Laws’ protections of domestic violence victims may (but do not necessarily) include:

  • Terminating you because your employer suspects you may be the victim of domestic violence, sex offenses, or stalking.
  • Terminating you because your employer believes your abuser may confront you at work.
  • Terminating you because you obtained an order of protection against your abuser.
  • Prohibiting you from taking time off for going to court, moving, or seeking assistance due to domestic violence, while permitting other employees to take time off for personal needs and family emergencies.

If you believe you have suffered discrimination at work because of your status as a victim of domestic violence, sex offenses, or stalking, feel free to contact us today to discuss your rights.

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