According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of early 2018, the employment rate in the United States was 60.4%. From 2013 to 2018, the unemployment rate has dropped from 8% to below 4% – the lowest rate since December 2000. Many entering the work force are individuals who have children, want, or are caring of children. As more working parents enter the labor force, it is important that these individuals are given protections from being discriminated against for having a family.
As of January 19, 2016, the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”) includes “familial status” as a protected category for the purposes of employment. A protected category is a class of people that are specifically protected from employment discrimination. Under N.Y. Human Rights Law section 292.26, familial status is defined as:
(a) any person who is pregnant or has a child or is in the process of securing legal custody of any individual who has not attained the age of eighteen years, or
(b) one or more individuals (who have not attained the age of eighteen years) being domiciled with:
(1) a parent or another person having legal custody of such individual or individuals, or
(2) the designee of such parent.
Put more simply, individuals who are currently parents or guardians, or in the process of becoming a parent or guardian (through pregnancy, adoption, etc.) of one or more children under the age of 18 are protected from workplace discrimination under this addition to the NYSHRL.
This addition to the NYSHRL recognizes these employees as members of a protected class. Thus, an employee or potential employee may not be subjected to any adverse employment action because of his/her status as a parent or guardian, or for being in the process of becoming a parent or guardian. Adverse employment actions include termination, suspension, and demotion just to name a few. It is now illegal for an employer to terminate an employee for being a parent, for being pregnant, for getting custody of a child, for being a single parent, for being a foster parent, for caring for a relative under the age of 18 that they live with, and so forth.
Not every instance of “disparate treatment” leads to a discrimination case. You should make your employer aware of your concerns so that your employer can address them. Keep good records of your communications with your employer, especially written documentation. If your employer doesn’t take your concerns seriously, or takes adverse actions against your employment for expressing your concerns, you may have a retaliation claim in addition to a discrimination claim. It’s in your best interest to seek the help of a New York Employment Attorney. Please feel free to call us at (516) 873-9550 or email us for a free, confidential case evaluation.