According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “Among married-couple families with children, 97.5 percent had at least one employed parent in 2019, and 64.2 percent had both parents employed.” It’s no secret that working families in New York face unique challenges–including discriminatory treatment in the workplace.
At Brown Kwon & Lam, we know that balancing family life and the demands of working every day can be challenging. And when your employer treats you unfairly because of your familial status, you deserve justice. If you have experienced discrimination in the workplace because of your familial status, you need the New York employment discrimination lawyers at Brown Kwon & Lam.
What is Familial Status Discrimination?
Familial status discrimination, also known as marital and parental status discrimination, is discrimination that occurs in the workplace (or housing) based upon an employee’s (or tenants) marital status or if they have children or not. Discrimination is not just against those who are married with children but can also occur against those who are single, or any combination thereof.
Common examples of familial status discrimination include:
- Being denied employment (despite qualifications) due to pregnancy or status as an unmarried parent
- Being passed for a promotion because an employer believes that because of age, marital status, etc. that the employee will soon become pregnant and stop working as efficiently
- Being terminated after notifying an employer that the employee has become pregnant
- Being married to someone who works at the company or used to work at the company
While these are common examples, there are other forms of discrimination that may take place, such as being terminated after utilizing the Family Medical Leave Act to care for a sick child, being discriminated against for using the Paid Family Leave policy after giving birth, or being treated unfairly for leaving work early for a child’s event while employees without children are given more flexibility.
New York State Legislation Protections Against Familial Status Discrimination
Under the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), “The opportunity to obtain employment without discrimination because of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, marital status, or disability, is hereby recognized as and declared to be a civil right.”
In addition, NYSHRL offers these protections to any person who is pregnant or has children under the age of 18 to whom they are a caregiver. A caregiver is recognized as someone who provides direct and continuous care for minor children or someone who has a disability that lives in the employee’s household.
New York City also has legislation protecting employees from discrimination based on familial status. The New York City Human Rights Law offers protections to employees in New York City based upon their marital status and partnership status as well as pregnancy and lactation accommodations.
Federal law does not offer protections to employees based on marital status unless employed by the federal government, which there are protections under the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA).
Legal Precedent in New York Familial Status Discrimination Cases
Following the ruling in Morse v. Fidessa Corp. (2018), the New York City Human Rights Law was expanded to protect employees whose spouse–a former employee–has taken a job with the company’s competitor. The court concluded that “marital status” not only includes an employee’s status as married or not married, but expands to an individual’s marital status with respect to a particular person.
Further, the finding in Morse makes it clear that for employers who have anti-nepotism policies, an employee’s relationship with an individual who works for a competitor cannot be the single reason for an employee’s termination.
Familial Status Discrimination in New York, New York City
As a New York or New York City employee facing familial status discrimination, we know you may feel conflicted about the actions you can take. Marital status and pregnancy discrimination cases are complex, which is why you need a legal team who can address your case and determine the best course of action.
At Brown Kwon & Lam, we will work diligently to protect your employee rights and to honor your family. If you are in need of a familial status discrimination lawyer in New York, contact us today for a free consultation. We look forward to helping you.