On December 16, 2015, the New York City Council passed a bill prohibiting employers from discriminating against employees based on their actual or perceived status as a caregiver. The new law would establish caregiver status as a new protected class under the New York City Human Rights Law, and defines “caregiver” as “a person who provides direct and ongoing care for a minor child or care recipient.”

Under the law, a “care recipient” is an individual with a disability “who: (i) is a covered relative, or a person who resides in the caregiver’s household; and (ii) relies on the caregiver for medical care or to meet the needs of daily living.” The law further specifies that a “covered relative” includes “a caregiver’s child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, grandchild or grandparent, or the child or parent of the caregiver’s spouse or domestic partner, or any other individual in a familial relationship with the caregiver” as provided by the New York City Commission on Human Rights. The bill is currently before the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio for signature and will become effective 120 days after enactment. 

In support of the bill, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito stated, “Caregivers make great personal sacrifices to improve the lives of their loved ones and they shouldn’t have to face discrimination from employers or prospective employers because of this.”  Once enacted, New York City will join several municipalities in New York and New Jersey—including Westchester County, the City of Newark, Monroe County, and the City of Passaic—that have adopted similar family caregiver protection laws. New York City employers should review and consider amending their equal employment policies and procedures to reflect the additional protected class of caregivers.