New York Violence in the Workplace laws & safety compliance analysis

New York Violence in the Workplace: What you need to know

Domestic Violence

The state Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) protects domestic violence victims from employment discrimination for taking time off from work to go to court; consult with a district attorney, counselor, and/or doctor; and recuperate from injuries. It is a violation of the law to treat an employee who is a domestic violence victim differently from any other employee because of that employee's status as a domestic violence victim. For example, if an employer provides personal time off or sick leave for its employees, it may not deny a domestic violence victim use of those policies to attend to issues pertaining to domestic violence, such as court appearances or going to doctors.

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In order to properly address this legal protection by the NYSHRL, employers should update 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. In addition, employers should ensure that workplace violence policies are up to date and incorporate the issue of domestic violence. Finally, employers should ensure that all supervisors and employees are aware of how to handle a domestic violence situation that affects the workplace.

New York City and Westchester County. In both New York City and Westchester County, a covered employer must reasonably accommodate a domestic violence victim unless doing so would cause an "undue hardship" on the employer's business (N.Y.C. Admin. Code Sec. 8-107.1(3) and Westchester County Code Sec. 700.03(8)). Reasonable accommodation may include the provision of additional leave and/or modification of work scheduling.

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