New York City employment discrimination lawyers can draw from a wide range of statutes to assist workers who have experienced adverse actions by their employers in violation of the law. The city’s antidiscrimination law is one of the only ones in the country to protect employees with caregiving responsibilities for family members or others. The COVID-19 pandemic, unfortunately, has shown some gaps in the law’s coverage. A new state law provides paid leave for workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This new law does not specifically cover caregivers who may need to take time off from work to accompany a person under their care while they get the vaccine. It is possible, however, that city law might protect an employee with this sort of responsibility.
The New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) prohibits discrimination based on “caregiver status.” N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(1)(a). A caregiver has responsibility for a minor child or a “care recipient.” The latter term refers to an individual who:
1. Resides in the caregiver’s household or is a “covered relative” of the caregiver; and
2. Depends on the caregiver “for medical care or to meet the needs of daily living.” Id. at § 8-102.
The term “covered relative” includes close relatives like minor or adult children, spouses and domestic partners, parents, grandparents, and siblings. The statute allows the New York City Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to add other “familial relationships” to the definition of “covered relative.” So far, the CHR has not done so. It currently has no rules specifically interpreting the NYCHRL’s provisions on caregiver discrimination.