LawUpdated Discrimination, Equal Pay and Domestic Violence Employer Laws

Amendments to the New York State Human Rights Law

Prohibition of Hair Discrimination

Effective 7/12/2019, NYS banned hair discrimination in the workplace. This includes traits historically associated with race, “including hair texture and hairstyles such as braids, locks, twists, etc.”

Religious Attire, Clothing, and Facial Hair:

Effective 10/8/2019, NYS Banned employers from discriminating against individuals for wearing “any attire, clothing or facial hair related to a sincerely held religious belief or practice.”

Equal Pay Law

Effective 10/8/2019, the new law prohibits pay differentials based on any protected class or characteristics, not just based on sex.

Protected classes include age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, familial status, marital status, and domestic violence victim status.

Increased Employment Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence

Starting November 18, 2019, employers in New York State will be required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who are victims of domestic violence or whose children are victims of domestic violence. Employers will be required to provide employees with time off from work for the reasons listed unless it would cause the employer to suffer an undue hardship.

The accommodations required to be provided under the law are time off from work for a reasonable time for any of the following:

  • Seeking medical attention for injuries to themselves or their child(ren) caused by domestic violence
  • Obtaining services from a domestic violence shelter, program, or rape crisis center
  • Obtaining counseling for themselves or their child(ren) relating to domestic violence
  • Participating in safety planning, including temporary or permanent relocation
  • Obtaining legal services, to assist in the prosecution of a domestic violence offense, or to appear in court in relation to incidents of domestic violence

Employees who are approved leave as a reasonable accommodation due to domestic violence may be required by their employer to use paid leave when available. Any absence that cannot be covered by paid leave may be treated as unpaid leave.

The amendment also requires that employees give advance notice when possible. If advance notice is not possible, an employer can require an employee to provide certification for the absence(s) in the form of a police report, court order of protection, evidence from a court or prosecuting attorney that the employee appeared in court or documentation from a medical professional, domestic violence advocate, health care provider, or counselor that the employee or their child(ren) were undergoing treatment resulting from domestic violence.

For more information about the amendment to this law, click here.