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Recommendations for Employers 

New York employers should prepare their workplaces to ensure compliance with this amendment to New York State’s Human Rights Law and to minimize potential exposure to liability. To that end, employers should consider taking the following measures:

• Updating their handbooks to include domestic violence victims as a protected category and to reflect that their antidiscrimination/antiharassment policies encompass domestic violence victims. These revised policies should be provided to all employees.

• Ensuring that workplace violence policies are up-to-date and incorporate the issue of domestic violence.

 

• Ensuring that all supervisors and employees are aware of how to handle a domestic violence situation that spills over into the workplace.

• Incorporating this change in New York’s law into antidiscrimination and antiharassment training for supervisors and employees to educate them about the laws pertaining to the protection of domestic violence victims and educating employees regarding the effects of domestic violence, ways to prevent violence, and methods to report such violence to authorities.

• Training supervisors on how to handle interviews with domestic violence victims, requests for accommodation from an employee because of a domestic violence situation, and reports to a supervisor from an employee about a domestic violence situation.

• Posting in a visible place a list of resources for domestic violence victims, including contact information, and information for the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence; posting the names and contact information of designated employees who are trained and available to serve as confidential sources of information, support and referral.

• Providing information to employees that New York State law prohibits insurance companies and health maintenance organizations from discriminating against domestic violence victims. The law prohibits these organizations from designating domestic violence as a pre-existing condition. An insurance company may not deny or cancel an insurance policy or require a higher premium or payment because the insured is or has been a domestic violence victim.

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Recommendations for Employers

In 2009, New York State amended its Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) to protect domestic violence victims from employment discrimination.  The amendment seeks to prevent employment discrimination against victims of domestic violence for taking time off from work to go to court, consult with a district attorney, counselor, and/or doctor, and recuperate from injuries.  Employers in the State of New York should prepare their workplaces to ensure compliance with the New York State’s Human Rights Law and to minimize potential exposure to liability.

New York City Human Rights Law

The 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."

New York State Human Rights Law

​The NYSHRL includes "domestic violence victim" as one of the specifically protected statuses to be free from discrimination.  This law only applies to employers with four or more employees.  N.Y. Exec Law § 296(1)(a).

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