NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed into law an amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) adding current or prior service in the uniformed services as a protected class under the law. The amendment will take effect on November 19, 2017.

As we previously reported, the bill gives veterans and active military personnel protection against discrimination in employment, as well as in public accommodations, housing and lending. The bill defines “uniformed service” as including current or prior service in the:

  • United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard (including the Reserves);
  • Army or Air National Guard;
  • Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Services;
  • organized militia of the state of New York or any other state, territory or possession of the United States; and
  • any other service designated as part of the “uniformed services” under federal law.

Employers, employment agencies and labor organizations will be prohibited from discriminating against any person on the basis of his or her current or past uniformed service by:

  • representing that employment or a position is not available when it is in fact available;
  • refusing to hire or employ or barring or discharging such person from employment or labor organization membership; or
  • discriminating against such person in compensation or in the terms, conditions or privileges of employment.

The amendment further provides that it would not be an unlawful discriminatory practice to afford a preference or privilege based on uniformed service in employment, housing, lending or public accommodation.

Employers should be aware that current servicemembers and veterans are also protected from discrimination under the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), as well as the New York State Human Rights Law. And while this amendment to the NYCHRL does not address accommodations for servicemembers, both USERRA and state law provide for certain leave, benefit maintenance and reinstatement rights in connection with military service.