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Familial Status Discrimination

Employment discrimination in New York is prohibited by federal, state and local laws. Usually, these laws mirror each other and generally prohibit the same types of discrimination. Familial status discrimination, however, is expressly prohibited by New York State law, but not by federal law. For this reason, among others, victims of familial status discrimination in New York should speak to a knowledgeable Long Island familial status discrimination lawyer, such as those at Famighetti & Weinick PLLC.

The New York State Human Rights Law, a part of New York's Executive Law, prohibits employers who have more than four employers from discriminating against employees based on the employee's familial status. Like most legal terms, familial status has a specific meaning. Under the Human Rights Law, familial status means anyone who is pregnant or has a child or in trying to obtain custody of a person under 18 years old (i.e. adopting a child). In addition, the law protects people under 18 who live with a parent or other person with legal custody of him or her.

What constitutes discrimination under the familial status section of the Human Rights law? Familial status discrimination can occur when the employer make an employment decision based on an unlawful consideration of the person's familial status. Employment decisions can include whether to hire or fire the individual, promote the person, alter an employee's pay, or subject the employee to less favorable working conditions.

The New York State Division of Human Rights enforces New York's Human Rights Law and investigates claims of unlawful familial status discrimination. The Division has provided guidance on the types of things an employer may not consider about a person when making an employment decision. Some examples include making decisions based on: whether the employee has children at home; whether the employer considers that the employee has too many children; the fact that a father may be a single parent with custody of children; pregnancy; or believing that an employee will not be reliable because he or she is a parent.

Notably, the familial status provision does not require that employers accommodate employees in ways in which they are not otherwise required to accommodate employees. For example, an employer would not be liable for familial status discrimination simply by prohibiting an employee from taking time off to attend a child's school conference. But, if the employer regularly allows employees to take time off for personal reasons and the employer denied this employee specifically to prevent the employee from attending a child's school conference, then this may be unlawful familial status discrimination.

Additionally, familial status discrimination does not include nepotism. In other words, employers may choose to hire their own family members instead of other qualified applicants. This would not be unlawful discrimination on Long Island.

Familial status discrimination may intersect with other employment laws. For example, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of leave for qualified employees to care for a sick or injured family member. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and other provisions of the New York State Human Rights Law prohibit discrimination based on an employee's pregnancy. For these reasons, employees facing discrimination should speak to a Long Island familial status attorney to determine which laws may be applicable.

Familial status discrimination is illegal on Long Island. To discuss your discrimination case with a Long Island familial status discrimination lawyer, call Famighetti & Weinick PLLC at (631) 352-0050.

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