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In a 2005 phone survey, 44 percent of 1,200 employees who participated had been personally affected by domestic violence in their workplaces and 21 percent acknowledged that they were victims of domestic violence. According to another study, almost three quarters of the survivors of domestic violence were harassed by their abusers while they were working and many did not report these incidents to the police, perhaps because they were afraid of losing their jobs. Although Title VII of the  Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not explicitly protect employee-victims of domestic violence from discrimination, the  City’s  Human Rights Law  makes it illegal for an employer to take any adverse employment action against an employee because that employee is a victim of domestic violence.

Title VII’s approach to discrimination against victims of domestic violence

Although Title VII does not make discrimination against victims of domestic violence unlawful,  disparate treatment based on sexual bias is unlawful. In one case, an employee was unlawfully fired because her employer was concerned about the possible “drama that battered women bring to the workplace.” 

The New York City Human Rights Law

Victims of domestic violence, under New York City Law, are those who have been threatened or physically abused by:

  • A current spouse
  • A former spouse
  • The parent of the victim’s child
  • A live-in boyfriend or girlfriend
  • A person involved with the victim in a romantic or intimate relationship
  • A person who lives in the same house on a regular basis

An employer may not discriminate against a victim of domestic violence, sex offenses or stalking in decisions involving hiring and firing and wages, or by withholding employment benefits or privileges. 

Employer accommodations

If you are a victim of domestic violence, your New York City employer is obligated to make reasonable accommodations to suit your needs, so you can continue to work and fulfill your job obligations even while you are getting the help you need. These accommodations could include unpaid leave time so that you can:

  • See your doctor.
  • Speak to your lawyer.
  • Meet with social services.
  • Attend court appearances.
  • Move into a new apartment.

If you are not receiving the accommodations you need, get assistance from a New York employment discrimination attorney

Speak with experienced and compassionate New York attorneys

To qualify for assistance from your employer, you will need to inform your employer of the fact that you are a victim of domestic violence. Your employer may ask you for a letter confirming this from a professional or organizations to whom you have turned for help. This information must be kept confidential, except under very limited circumstances, and cannot be used as a basis for not hiring or firing you. Consult an experienced, compassionate attorney at the Akin Law Group.

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    45 Broadway
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    New York, New York 10006
    Phone: 212-825-1400
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