Some of the information on this page may have been temporarily changed by governments and courts in response to Coronavirus.
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.
There are new U.S. and NY State laws to protect employees during the Covid-19 health crisis.
Protection under U.S. Law
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) gives certain employees the right to receive Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Paid Family and Medical Leave. The provisions in the FFCRA currently apply through December 31, 2020.
You may have rights under FFCRA if you:
- Work for a private employer with less than 500 employees
- Are a government employee (NOTE: Some federal workers are not eligible)
Emergency Paid Sick Leave gives an employee up to 80 hours of paid sick leave if:
- They are ill, or
- They need to take care of someone else who is ill, or
- They need to take care of a child whose school or daycare is closed because of Covid-19.
What you can receive:
- If the employee is ill: They can receive 100% of pay up to $511/day for a total of $5,110.
- If they are taking care for someone else: They can receive 2/3 pay up to $200/day or $2,000 total.
To receive Emergency Paid Family and Medical Leave, employees must be on the payroll for at least 30 days, and
- They cannot work or telework (work from home), and
- They need to care for a child under the age of 18 whose school or care provider is closed because of Covid-19.
What you can receive:
- Up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave.
- You will not receive pay for the first 10 days of leave (but you may be able to get other paid time off).
- After 10 days, you will receive 2/3 of your regular rate of pay, up to $200/day for a total of $10,000.
- If you have already taken Family Medical Leave, your Emergency Medical Leave time may be reduced.
- Emergency Medical Leave may be taken intermittently (not all at the same time), but ONLY if it's because schools or childcare is closed AND the employer allows it.
Protection under New York State Law
If you are an employee who is not covered by the FCCRA, you may be able to receive “NYS emergency paid leave” if:
- You have or may have Covid-19, or
- You are caring for a child that has or may have Covid-19, and
- Your health department personally ordered you to quarantine or self-isolate.
Whether that leave is paid or unpaid depends on the size of your employer.
For example, employers with less than 10 employees do not have to pay you during the leave. But you may be able to receive NYS Paid Family Leave and Disability Insurance.
- NYS Paid Family Leave gives you up to 10 weeks to care for your close family member.
- NYS Disability Insurance gives employees who become ill or are injured outside the job up to $170/week in income for up to 26 weeks.
Immigration status is not a factor for eligibility.
For more information and links to application forms, please go to the Federal and NYS Paid Leave page on Empire Justice Center’s website.
If you believe you were exposed to Covid-19 at your workplace and cannot work because of the illness, you may qualify for Workers' Compensation.
If you are unable to work or have lost your job because of the Covid-19 health crisis, you may be able to receive NYS Unemployment Insurance.
For more information on NYS Unemployment Insurance (NY UI), or unemployment benefits, please visit the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance ("PUA") program.
Please note that on July 31, 2020, the additional Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (“FPUC”) $600/week benefit for unemployed workers receiving UI or PUA, expired. Please visit the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance website for more information and updates on whether the additional benefit has been extended.
To find out more information, such as how to apply for UI, and if you can receive PUA, please visit the NYS Unemployment Insurance FAQ page on Empire Justice Center’s website.
Updated December 11, 2020
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 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 :
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,
Other Legal Protections
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.
Protection against Employment Discrimination
It is against the law for an employer to discriminate against an employee. This means, an employer cannot:
- 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
- Other protected categories.
In NYS, victims of domestic violence have special protections from employment discrimination.
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.
For immediate help and to report a crime, call 911.
Need help paying for food, housing utilities, or child care? Do you need help with healthcare, disability, vocational or other services?
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - confidential support for people in distress: 1-800-273-8255.
Adult Protective Services: 1-844-697-3505.
The New York State Hotline for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence: 1-800-942-6906.
National Human Trafficking Hotline: Call 1-888-373-7888 (TTY: 711) | Text 233733