Domestic Workers Now Have Full Protections of the NYS Human Rights Law

On December 31, 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law Chapter 830 of the Laws of New York, amending the Human Rights Law to expand protections for individuals employed as domestic workers. Prior to this amendment, domestic workers were only covered by the Human Rights Law’s anti-discrimination protections in certain circumstances. Now, domestic workers are considered “employees” for all purposes under the Human Rights Law and have the full protections of the law's employment provisions.

Who are domestic workers?

Domestic workers are individuals employed at a home or residence as housekeepers, nannies, home healthcare aides, or similar positions. A person does not need to live with their employer to be considered a domestic worker. Additionally, the law does not cover any individual employed by their parents, spouse, or child.

What conduct is prohibited under the new law?

Employers are prohibited from discriminating against domestic workers due to age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, familial status, marital status, domestic violence victim status, favorably resolved arrest record, or because the individual has opposed any practices forbidden under the HRL or because the individual has filed a complaint.

Are there any exceptions?

In some situations, the employee’s sex might be considered a bona fide occupational qualification. If something is a bona fide occupational qualification, it means it is essential to performing a job. For example, if an employment position requires personal care for an individual, including bathing, toileting, dressing or similar activities, an employer might be able to show that a hiring decision based on sex is necessary because of privacy concerns.

What if I've experienced discrimination?

If you believe you have been discriminated against, you may file a complaint with DHR. The DHR complaint form is available online. You can also contact one of DHR’s offices to obtain a complaint form or other assistance in filing a complaint.