Becoming a crime victim can impact your life and your ability to work. You may:
- Be less productive
- Need more time off
- Feel more stress or anxiety
- Not be able to do your job well
- Lose your job, because you quit or get fired
In the Employment section, you can find information about your rights, and resources that protect you as an employee.
Help with Employment Issues
There are NY State laws to protect employees who lose their jobs.
If you are injured or become ill (including Covid-19) as a direct result of your job, you may qualify for Workers' Compensation.
If you have lost your job, you may be able to receive NYS Unemployment Insurance.
For more information, please visit:
- Get Unemployment Assistance on the NYS website
If you had to quit your job or were fired because of domestic violence, please visit Employment Protections for Domestic Violence Victims.
Updated October 5, 2023
Laws that Protect Employees
If you are a crime victim, you have these protections in the workplace:
Time off to go to court
In New York State, it is against the law for your employer to fire you or punish you for missing work to go to court if:
- A prosecutor asks to meet with you
- You are testifying at the trial
- You want to tell the court how the crime impacted you
- You got a subpoena (a written order) to go to court
- You are a witness in a court case
- You want an Order of Protection from Family Court.
You must tell your employer the day before you miss work. You may also have to show proof you were in court. You have the right to ask the police or prosecutor to help you tell your employer that you need to miss work.
If your employer does not follow this law, it is a crime.
Note: Your employer does not have to pay you when you miss work to go to court.
You may have a disability because of the crime. Disabilities are long-lasting physical or mental injuries, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
If you have a disability, you have a right to ask your employer for “reasonable accommodations” under both New York State and federal laws.
What is a reasonable accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is a change in the workplace, policies, or procedures. The change lets you:
- Do your job more easily
- Apply for a job
- Enjoy the same job opportunities as other employees
- Changing your work schedule
- Adjusting how a job is done
- Getting more unpaid time off for medical treatment.
You have a right to ask for accommodations, but they must be reasonable. Your employer does not have to make a change that would be too hard or expensive. That’s called “undue hardship.”
For example, if changing your schedule or giving you time off means other employees can’t do their jobs, this would be an undue hardship for your employer.
Your employer must work with you to see if a different accommodation can help.
Note: Companies that have few employees may not have to provide reasonable accommodations.
It is important to know that you cannot ask to remove an “essential function” of your job.
Examples of essential functions include:
- Collecting money (cashier),
- Talking to callers (call center representative)
- Driving with passengers sitting behind you (taxi driver).
To find more information about disability rights visit the:
- NYS Attorney General’s website,
- Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission
- NYS Division of Human Rights website.
Protection against Employment Discrimination
It is against the law for an employer to discriminate against an employee. This means, an employer cannot:
- Hire (or refuse to hire)
- Fail to promote
- Pay Less, or
- Treat an employee or job applicant differently
because of their:
- Country of birth
- Gender identity or expression
- Citizenship status
- Sexual orientation
- Domestic violence victim status
- Other protected categories.
In NYS, victims of domestic violence have special protections from employment discrimination. Please see this brochure, "Employment rights for victims of domestic violence" to learn more.
What can I do if I experience discrimination at work?
If you think you have been discriminated against, you can file a discrimination claim with the:
There are deadlines to file a discrimination claim. You can check these websites to find out about the deadlines.
Updated October 5, 2023
Medical Leave Protections
Some crime victims may have serious physical or emotional health concerns because of the crime. If you are a victim of crime, you and your family may need time to heal. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives you the right to take that time as unpaid leave.
What is the FMLA?
The Family and Medical Leave Act, also called FMLA allows you to take unpaid leave for some family and medical reasons without losing your job. It says:
- You can take unpaid leave to care for yourself, your child, spouse, or parent.
- You can take up to 12 weeks off from work.
- You or your family member must have a serious health condition.
What is a serious health condition?
This means a serious illness, injury, or mental condition. To treat the condition, you or your family member must need to:
- Stay overnight in a hospital or
- Have ongoing treatment by a health care provider.
What are my rights under the FMLA?
If you qualify for unpaid leave under the FMLA, you have the following rights:
- Your position, pay, and benefits will be the same when you go back to work.
- You can return to the same or similar job and working conditions.
- If you get health insurance at work, you can have the same level of benefits while you are off and after you return.
- Your employer must keep health information about you and your family members confidential.
Can I get leave under the FMLA?
Not all employees qualify for FMLA.
You may qualify if:
- Your company has more than 50 employees in a 75-miles radius, and
- You worked there at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months.
For more information, please visit the US Department of Labor.
NYS Paid Family Leave
If you have a close family member who is a crime victim, you may qualify for New York State Paid Family Leave. You can take paid time off to take care of your family member without losing your job.
Close family members include your:
- Child or stepchild
- Domestic partner
- Parent, stepparent, or parent-in-law
- Grandparent, or grandchild.
NYS Paid Family Leave can be taken in addition to short-term disability benefits. You can take NYS Paid Family Leave before or after you using your short-term disability leave.
To find out if you qualify and how to apply for NYS Paid Family Leave,
Employment Protections for Domestic Violence Victims
If you are a victim of domestic violence, New York State gives you other legal protections.
Unemployment Insurance Benefits for Domestic Violence Victims
If you can show you left your job for “good cause,” you may be able to get cash payments from the state. These benefits replace part of your salary while you look for a new job.
Note: You cannot get unemployment benefits if you decide to quit your job without good cause.
What is good cause?
Good cause means a good legal reason. It is also called a “compelling reason.”
Domestic violence can be a compelling family reason to leave a job. If staying at your job will put you or a close family member in danger, you may have good cause to quit.
I was fired because of domestic violence. Can I get unemployment benefits?
Maybe. You may have to show proof of the abuse. Proof can be:
- A police report,
- An order of protection, or
- A statement from a professional who helped you and knows how the abuse affected you.
Even if you don’t have proof, you can still apply for unemployment benefits. But you must tell the Department of Labor representative why you do not have proof.
For more information about unemployment insurance benefits and domestic violence, please go to NYS DOL Unemployment Insurance and Domestic Violence Guide and Unemployment Insurance DV FAQs.
For more information about filing an appeal if you are turned down for benefits, please visit the Department of Labor website.
Absences from Work for Victims of Domestic Violence
There are 2 different laws that help victims of domestic violence when they need to be absent from work because of domestic violence.
1. Safe Leave
If you are a victim of domestic violence, family offense, sex offense, stalking, or human trafficking, and ask your employer, they must provide sick leave for you to:
- Get services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, or other services program
- Participate in safety planning or take other actions to increase the safety of you or your family, including temporary or permanent relocation
- Meet with an attorney or other social services provider to get help or to prepare for court
- Meet with a district attorney’s office
- File a complaint or domestic incident report with law enforcement
- Enroll children in a new school
- Take other actions to ensure the health or safety of you, your family, or your coworkers
For more details go to "NYS Safe Leave".
2. Reasonable Accommodation
If your employer knows you are a victim of domestic violence, your employer must make reasonable accommodations to allow you to be absent from work for a reasonable time to:
- Get services from a domestic violence shelter, program, or rape crisis center
- Participate in safety planning or take other actions to increase safety from future incidents of DV, including temporary or permanent relocation
- Seek medical attention for DV related injuries for yourself or your child
- Get psychological counseling for yourself or your child related to incident(s) of DV
- Get legal services, help in the prosecution of the offense, or appear in court in relation to the incident or incidents of domestic violence
You must tell your employer of your need to be absent a reasonable time ahead of the absence. If you can’t tell the employer ahead of time, then your employer can ask you to provide a “certification” such as:
- A police report
- An order of protection
- A letter from the court or prosecuting attorney
- A document from a professional providing treatment or counseling to you or your child for physical or mental injuries from the domestic violence.
Note: Your employer does not have to allow you to be absent if it would cause an undue hardship to the employer.
For more information go to NYS Division of Human Rights, Employment Rights for Victims of Domestic Violence.
Help With Other Needs
For immediate help and to report a crime, call 911.
Need help understanding legal terms? Please see the NY Court Help Glossary.
Need help paying for food, housing utilities, or child care? Do you need help with healthcare, disability, vocational or other services? Visit findservicesNY.gov or visit the NYS Social Programs website.
Visit the Hotlines page for national and New York State resources.