Caregiver Status Discrimination Claim Sufficiently Alleged, Court Finds

In a recent case, Palmer v. Cook, 2019 NY Slip Op 29240 (Sup. Ct. Qns. Cty. Aug. 5, 2019), the court, inter alia, held that plaintiff sufficiently stated a claim for “caregiver status” discrimination under the New York City Human Rights Law.[1]As with many blog posts, here I have addressed only a subset of this lengthy and detailed decision; the reader is encouraged to review the decision in its entirety.

The New York City Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination based on various bases, including, as relevant here, “caregiver status.” NYC Admin. Code § 8-107.

The statute defines “caregiver” and related terms as follows:

Caregiver. The term “caregiver” means a person who provides direct and ongoing care for a minor child or a care recipient. As used in this definition:

1. Care recipient. The term “care recipient” means a person with a disability who: (i) is a covered relative, or a person who resides in the caregiver’s household and (ii) relies on the caregiver for medical care or to meet the needs of daily living.

2. Covered relative. The term “covered relative” means a caregiver’s child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, grandchild or grandparent, or the child or parent of the caregiver’s spouse or domestic partner, or any other individual in a familial relationship with the caregiver as designated by the rules of the commission.

NYC Admin. Code § 8-102.

The court here holds that, under the law, plaintiff sufficiently alleges this claim:

Within the Verified Complaint, Plaintiff states that her husband needed to begin chemotherapy. Plaintiff claims she requested four (4) hours off on eight (8) consecutive Fridays to take him to his chemotherapy sessions. Plaintiff affirms that this would have been a combination of vacation and other time that she accrued. Plaintiff alleges Defendant initially approved the request but recanted after Plaintiff attended two sessions. Plaintiff further alleges that throughout her 2010-2015 Employment Defendant made “grossly inappropriate and objectively hurtful statements” related to Plaintiff’s husband’s health. Finally, the $6,000 decrease in salary that Plaintiff received as a result of her need to leave work earlier to care for her husband, notwithstanding that Plaintiff still worked a full eight (8) hour day give rise to a claim for discrimination based on caregiver status pursuant to NYCHRL. [2019 NY Slip Op 29240 at *6-7.]

The court did note that it was “not clear whether these incidents arose during the period in which Plaintiff acquired caregiver status”, but held that it was denying defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff caregiver status discrimination claim and that it was doing so “[b]y affording the claim a liberal construction and affording the Plaintiff the benefit of every favorable inference.”

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1. As with many blog posts, here I have addressed only a subset of this lengthy and detailed decision; the reader is encouraged to review the decision in its entirety.