New York City Commission on Human Rights Will “Vigorously Enforce” New Legislation to Protect Caregivers From Employment Discrimination in New York City

On January 5, 2016, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a bill that added “caregiver” to the list of protected classifications under the New York City Human Rights Law.  The law, which takes effect on May 4, 2016, seeks to protect employees and applicants from discrimination because of their status or perceived status as a caregiver.  Carmelyn Malais, the Commissioner of the New York City Commission on Human Rights vowed that “the Commission will vigorously enforce this much-needed protection” for “every parent and family member caring for a loved one.”

The new legislation intends to cover a broad group of individuals who have caregiving responsibilities for their family.  The term “caregiver” is defined as a person who provides direct and ongoing care for a minor child or “care recipient.”  In turn, the term “care recipient” is defined as a “covered relative” with a disability who relies on the caregiver for medical care or to meet the needs of daily living.  And the term “covered relative” is broadly defined to include the child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent of the employee or the employee’s spouse.  The law also gives the New York City Commission on Human Rights the right to designate additional familial relationships that would be covered by the law.  In other words, it is likely that any employee with caregiving responsibilities for a child or other family member – regardless of the age of the family member – will be considered protected under the amended law.

The new City law follows in the footsteps of the New York State Human Rights Law, which was recently amended to protect parents from discrimination or stereotypes associated with their familial status.  However, unlike the state law, the amendment to the New York City Human Rights law is not limited to parental caregiving responsibilities.