NYC expands anti-discrimination protections for caregivers

Father holds child with a disability as they read book together
NYC Strengthen’s Caregiver Protections

Although New York City’s new caregiver protection bill is receiving far more attention for its impact on working parents and their children, the measure has significant implications for people providing care for the elderly and people with disabilities as well.

“New York is a City where everyone’s rights are respected,” Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said in a news release. “Those who are responsible for caring for others should never face workplace discrimination. With this bill, the Council is making needed updates to our Human Rights Law to make it stronger than ever and to ensure that all New Yorkers are afforded the justice and dignity they deserve.”

On December 16, the NYC Council unanimously voted to amend the city’s Human Rights Law to add “caregiver status” to its list of protected categories, thus barring employers from discriminating against people on the basis of their actual or perceived status as a caregiver.

The text defines a caregiver as either a person caring for either a minor child or a “care recipient,” defined as either as “a covered relative, or a person who resides in the caregiver’s household; and relies on the caregiver for medical care or to meet the needs of daily living.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill.

The law, introduced in February, is significantly broader than a similar bill passed earlier this year by the New York State Legislature, which protects people who are pregnant, those who have or live with a child, or are in the process of securing legal custody.

“Today’s vote marks a major step forward, as New York City becomes the latest and largest city explicitly to protect family caregivers from workplace discrimination,” A Better Balance, a workers rights advocacy group, said in a blog post. “Parents and others caring for family members will now have the full force of the NYC Human Rights Law on their side when they encounter bias on the job.”

However, the law only protects individuals from overt discrimination and does not require that employers provide reasonable accommodations, as is required under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other civil rights laws.

The NYC Human Rights Law also includes protections for people based on their “race, color, creed, age, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, partnership status, caregiver status, any lawful source of income, status as a victim of domestic violence or status as a victim of sex offenses or stalking, whether children are, may be or would be residing with a person or conviction or arrest record,” according to the bill’s text.