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Discrimination Relating to the Coronavirus Under the New York State Human Rights Law

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The New York State Human Rights Law
If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of a perceived connection between your race, national origin, or disability and the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, you can file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights.
The New York State Human Rights Law (HRL) protects individuals from discrimination based on a wide variety of personal characteristics, including race, national origin, and disability. The HRL prohibits discrimination against individuals who are assumed to have been exposed to the coronavirus based on these traits.
These protections cover employment, housing, education, and places of public accommodation.

For New Yorkers Concerned About Coronavirus-Related Discrimination 

  • Public places such as hotels, restaurants, transportation services, and retail stores cannot deny you entry or access to goods or services based on a perception that your national origin, race, or disability indicates possible exposure to the coronavirus.
  • Your employer cannot fire you, send you home, or tell you not to come to work because they think you may have been exposed to the coronavirus based solely on your race, national origin, or disability.
    It is an unlawful discriminatory practice to terminate an employee or prevent them from working based on speculation that the employee’s race, national origin, or disability indicates possible exposure to the coronavirus.
  • If your employer terminates you or sends you home based on what is later found to be a discriminatory policy, your employer could be responsible for your missed wages.
  • If you are wearing a face mask as a precaution, you are still protected against discrimination.
    The HRL prohibits discrimination based on a perceived connection between race, national origin, or disability and possible exposure to coronavirus. Wearing a face mask does not change this.
  • If you have been harassed or threatened because someone thinks you have the coronavirus, call 911 and contact law enforcement to report the incident immediately.
    Threats and harassment based on race national origin may be considered hate crimes. You may bring this to the attention of the New York State Hate Crimes Task Force by calling 1-888-392-3644.

For More Information on Discrimination 
If you believe you have been discriminated against, or have questions about the Human Rights Law, call 1-888-392-3644. Opens in a new windowVisit this page for updates on coronavirus response related changes to DHR's process.


For More Information on the Novel Coronavirus 
To address fears and misinformation on the Novel Coronavirus, the New York State Department of Health has set up a hotline 1-888-364-3065. You can also visit WWW.NY.GOV/CORONAVIRUS for more information.


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