Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has signed legislation that changes Section 292 of New York state’s Executive Law to specify that the Human Rights Law protects anyone who is a victim of domestic violence from employment discrimination.
One goal is to help make sure that people who have survived what Cuomo described as “these unthinkable traumas” never have to worry about losing their jobs as they deal with the aftermath of what they’ve experienced.
“Victims of domestic violence are forced to deal with far-reaching, lasting ramifications that can understandably interfere with their work schedules,” Cuomo said Aug. 20 in signing the legislation into law.
The governor’s office said that each year New York law enforcement receives reports of about 400,000 domestic violence incidents.
The new law specifies, in part, “It shall be unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to refuse to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee who is known by the employer to be a victim of domestic violence.”
The employer can charge the time off against any paid time off to which the employee may be entitled or, if there is no time available such as paid vacation, to treat the time off as an unpaid absence. Among the provisions of the new law are specifications that the time off can be used for seeking medical attention for injuries caused by domestic violence for a child who has been victimized, to obtain the services of a domestic violence shelter or other service provider, to obtain psychological counseling, to participate in safety planning, to obtain legal services and to appear in court.
The law calls for employees to give reasonable advance notice of an absence. If they can’t, such as when they’ve just been attacked, they’re allowed to provide certification from a police department, medical professional, domestic violence prevention advocate or other source that something had happened.
The new law allows employers to be excused from having to provide reasonable accommodation if they can demonstrate that the employee’s absence would be an undue hardship on the business because of its size, the number of employees and similar factors.
State Sen. Roxanne J. Persaud of Brooklyn, who sponsored the Senate version of the legislation, said, “It’s 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, also of Brooklyn, sponsored the bill in the Assembly. She 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.”