What Is Familial Status Discrimination In New York?

Pursuant to the Human Rights Law, familial status is a protected employment category. This means it's illegal for an employer to discriminate against an applicant or employee due to familial status.

What is familial status?

Familial status refers to any person who is either pregnant, has a child, is in the process of becoming the guardian of a person or persons under the age of eighteen. 

What are some examples of this type of discrimination?

Familial status discrimination occurs in the workplace when an employer makes employment decisions such as hiring, firing, or promoting an employee based on their familial status. Basically, making employment decisions based on any stereotypical belief regarding a parent or guardian of children under the age of eighteen may be illegal. Some examples:

  • An employer decides not to hire a person because they believe they should be a stay at home mother for their kids.
  • An employer does not hire an applicant or promote an employee because she is pregnant.
  • An employer does not hire or promote someone because the employer believes that the individual has too many children.
  • An employer does not hire or fire a person because they're a foster parent.

Like discrimination against other protected classes of citizens, it is unlawful for employers to retaliate against any employee for complaining about familial status discrimination in the workplace. An employer cannot retaliate against an employee for verbally complaining to management, filing formal written complaints with the company's human resources department, or with any kind of anti-discrimination agency such as the EEOC. Additionally, they cannot retaliate against an employee for complaining that another employee who faced this type of discrimination, or for encouraging other employees to file complaints against this type of discrimination.

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