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January 26, 2016

“Familial Status” Is Now a Protected Classification In New York State

On January 19, 2016, New York State’s “End Family Status Discrimination” legislation went into effect, making “familial status” a protected classification. The bill makes it illegal for an employer to make employment decisions based on whether an applicant or employee is pregnant, has children, or is in the process of securing legal custody of a minor.

Prior to this legislation’s implementation, New York State law only prohibited discrimination based on familial status in the areas of housing and credit. According to the Governor’s Press Office release, “women have been reported to be most affected by stereotyped views of parents in the work place and are less likely to be recommended for hire or promoted.”

Takeaway for Employers

This new law prohibits employers, employment agencies, licensing agencies, or labor organizations from discriminating against workers based on their familial status. Accordingly, employers should review their policies and employment applications and consider revisions to comply with New York’s newly implemented protected classification. We encourage employers to contact us for help in drafting policy and employment application language that complies with the new law. 

We also remind employers in New York City of the broad protections afforded to “caregivers” under City law.   Our Client Alert on the New York City law can be found at:

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If you have any questions regarding the End Family Status Discrimination law or related protected classifications, please do not hesitate to contact us.