On Wednesday, December 16, 2015, the New York City Council voted 49-0 in favor of Int. No. 108-A, legislation that amends the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) to prohibit employment discrimination based on an individual’s actual or perceived status as a caregiver.  It is now awaiting the Mayor’s signature.

Under the NYCHRL, it is an unlawful discriminatory act for an employer to refuse to hire, terminate, or discriminate against an employee in compensation or in relation to terms, conditions or privileges of employment, based on an employee’s actual or perceived status as a member of a protected class.  The NYCHRL defines several protected classes, including, but not limited to, “age,” “race,” “gender,” “sexual orientation,” “partnership status,” “national origin,” and “disability.”  The newly passed bill adds “caregiver” as a protected class, thereby prohibiting employment discrimination based on an individual’s actual or perceived status as a caregiver.

The bill defines “caregivers” as those who provide direct and ongoing care for a child under the age of 18 or a care recipient.  “Child” includes a biological, adopted or foster child, or a child for whom the caregiver has assumed a primary parental role.  “Care recipient” means anyone who: (i) has a disability and relies on the caregiver for medical care or to meet the needs of daily living; and (ii) is in a relationship with the caregiver as follows:

  • Caregiver’s child (including children over the age of 18);
  • Caregiver’s spouse;
  • Caregiver’s domestic partner;
  • Caregiver’s parent (including a biological, foster, step- or adoptive parent, a legal guardian of a caregiver, or a person who acted as the caregiver’s parent when the caregiver was a child);
  • Caregiver’s sibling (including a brother, sister, half-siblings, step-siblings, and siblings related through adoption);
  • Caregiver’s grandchild or grandparent;
  • The child or parent of the caregiver’s spouse or domestic partner;
  • An individual who resides in the caregiver’s household; or
  • Any individual in a familial relationship with the caregiver as designated by the New York City Commission on Human Rights.

This legislation would take effect 120 days after enactment, provided, however, that the City Commission on Human Rights may take any actions necessary prior to such effective date for the implementation of the local law, including, but not limited to, the adoption of any necessary rules.  In anticipation of the Mayor signing the bill into law, employers in New York City should review and update their human resources policies.  New York City employers should also incorporate the update into anti-discrimination training materials for employees and supervisors.