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:
Updated July 21, 2022
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.
For more information about domestic violence and unemployment benefits, or information about filing an appeal if you are turned down for benefits, please visit the Department of Labor website.
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. 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.