Legislation Includes Victims of Domestic Violence as a Protected Class in the Employment Provisions of the Human Rights Law and Explicitly States what Accommodations Employers Must Provide Victims of Domestic Violence
Cuomo: "By signing this measure into law we are strengthening our nation-leading domestic violence protection laws and ensuring survivors never have to fear losing their job as they deal with the aftermath of these unthinkable traumas."
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (A5618/S1040) expanding employment nondiscrimination protections for victims of domestic violence. This measure implements changes in the employment provisions of the Human Rights Law to include victims of domestic violence as a protected class, expanding protections for victims of domestic violence and strengthening New York's nation-leading support for domestic violence victims.
"Victims of domestic violence are forced to deal with far-reaching, lasting ramifications that can understandably interfere with their work schedules," Governor Cuomo said. "By signing this measure into law we are strengthening our nation-leading domestic violence protection laws and ensuring survivors never have to fear losing their job as they deal with the aftermath of these unthinkable traumas."
"My mother dedicated her life to helping survivors of domestic violence, and her work has inspired me to be a voice for our most vulnerable populations during my time in public service," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "This legislation continues our efforts to combat domestic violence and ensure survivors are supported in every way possible, and that includes protecting their ability to earn a paycheck and achieve financial independence. New York is leading the way with our Women's Justice Agenda, advancing gender equality, protecting all New Yorkers, and strengthening our society."
Current law does not explicitly say what protections and accommodations an employer must provide victims of domestic violence. This new law addresses that issue by listing the reasons an employer would need to allow a victim time off, including medical attention, victim services including for domestic violence or rape crisis, counseling, safety planning or relocation, and seeking legal services or cooperating with prosecution or appearing in court. The victim must be allowed to charge time if they have it available. The new law also expands the definition of victims of domestic violence.
Senator Roxanne J. Persaud said, "Following the signing of the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, New York is once again on the right side in protecting victims of Domestic Violence with the signing of this legislation into law. This legislation, which will expand assistance to allow those victims who are employed to take the necessary time off to heal from trauma that no one should ever have to go through; and protect them from unnecessary discrimination in the workplace. It is my hope that nobody will have to use these new measures but that New York continues to lead the nation in supporting victims of domestic violence and their families."
Assembly Member Helene E. Weinstein said, "It can be difficult for victims to obtain and maintain employment due to the stresses of domestic violence, the abuser's interference with the victim's ability to perform in the workplace or the need to access services that are necessary for safety. This bill provides important legal protections, which would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to these victims. I thank the Governor for recognizing the acute problems that the victims of domestic violence all too often face in employment."
Each year, an estimated 400,000 domestic violence incidents are reported to law enforcement in New York, and approximately 300,000 calls are received by hotlines throughout the State. Over 300,000 orders of protection were issued by New York Courts in 2013 alone.
Since taking office in 2011, Governor Cuomo has been a staunch advocate for protecting the rights of victims of domestic violence. In 2018, the Governor signed legislation prohibiting domestic abusers from possessing firearms and extending the sexual offense evidence collection kit retention period at hospitals from 30 days to 20 years. He also provided funding to distribute personal care items and victim services information to survivors. Earlier this year, the Governor signed the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, which codified more meaningful sentence reductions for domestic abuse survivors in the criminal justice system. More recently, Governor Cuomo signed three pieces of legislation this month expanding protections for victims of domestic violence.