New Law Protects New York City Workers with Caregiver Responsibilities

people, home, motion, walk, asia, professionalNew York City’s employment antidiscrimination statute provides protection for workers who are responsible, outside of work, for providing care to certain individuals. The New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) prohibits discrimination by employers on the basis of caregiver status, as well as retaliation for reporting an alleged violation or opposing an allegedly unlawful practice. These provisions protect caregivers from losing their jobs in many situations, but they do not necessarily facilitate caregivers having time off from work to meet their responsibilities. A new law, enacted by the New York City Council in January 2018, allows caregivers to make “temporary changes” to their work schedules in certain situations. The law takes effect in mid-July 2018.

The NYCHRL is one the few laws in the country to provide express protections based on caregiver status. It defines a “caregiver” as someone “who provides direct and ongoing care for a minor child or a care recipient.” N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-102(30)(a). A “care recipient” is (1) a close relative—e.g. a child, spouse parent, grandparent, etc.—or an individual who lives with the caregiver, who (2) needs the caregiver’s assistance “for medical care or to meet the needs of daily living.” Id. at § 8-102(30)(b). “Caregiver status” is a protected category under the NYCHRL, along with categories like age, race, gender, or sexual orientation. Id. at § 8-107(1)(a). Employers may not terminate or refuse to hire a person solely because of caregiver duties, nor may they discriminate with regard to wages, job responsibilities, or other features of employment.

The new law, Int. 1399-2016, defines “caregiver” much the same as the NYCHRL. The law applies to people who are responsible for providing care to a minor child, or to an adult who either resides with the caregiver or is a family member, and who relies on the care that they provide to meet their medical needs or the needs of daily life. See N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 20-1261.

The law builds on the New York City Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (ESSTA). Id. at § 20-911 et seq. It requires employers to grant a caregiver employee’s request for temporary schedule changes twice per calendar year. Each schedule change may not exceed one business day in duration, but the employee may make a single request for the year of two business days. The schedule change may involve paid or unpaid time off from work, or other accommodations like trading shifts or working remotely.

A caregiver employee requesting a schedule change must, within two days of making the initial request, submit the request in writing. The employer must respond immediately, but has fourteen days to put the response into writing. The employer’s written response must state whether it agrees to the request, and must provide reasons if it does not agree. It must also state how many requests and days the employee has left for the remainder of the calendar year. An employer may not compel and employee to use leave accrued under the ESSTA for caregiver responsibilities.

Phillips & Associates’ employment attorneys advocate for the rights of New York City workers who have experienced discrimination because of caregiver responsibilities, along with other unlawful workplace practices. Please contact us today at (212) 248-7431 or online to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case.

More Blog Posts:

New York City Protects Against Caregiver Discrimination, New York Employment Attorney Blog, January 17, 2018

New York City’s Caregiver Discrimination Statute Filled Several Important Gaps in Anti-Discrimination Law, New York Employment Attorney Blog, June 8, 2017

Paid Family Leave Statute to Take Effect in New York in 2018, New York Employment Attorney Blog, January 12, 2017

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