Five things to know about NY’s domestic violence laws
October 11, 2016
As published by The Journal News on October 7, 2016.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released an updated brochure on laws that protect victims in New York.
The purple brochure outlines the legal protections and services available to New York’s domestic-violence victims under the state law and the 1994 federal Violence Against Women Act.
Here’s five things you should know about the laws:
Fair treatment in the workplace
According to New York’s Human Rights Law, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against an individual because they are a victim of domestic violence.
Additionally, if a victim can provide documentation of abuse and believes they are at risk for further abuse if they continue their employment, they can become eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits under the state’s labor laws.
Human rights laws in New York City and Westchester County explicitly prohibit employers from discriminating against a person because the individual is, or is perceived to be, a victim of domestic violence.
Right to fair housing
Under state law, landlords cannot refuse to rent to domestic-violence victims.
Landlords participating in a federally subsidized housing program must also accept federally subsidized housing vouchers from domestic-violence victims, according to the Violence Against Women Act.
Similarly, New York City landlords cannot refuse to accept Living in Communities housing vouchers, which are provided to domestic-violence victims, or any other form of government-based rental assistance.
The right to early termination of a lease
If an order of protection is in effect, victims can legally terminate their leases under New York law, even if their landlord refuses to do so.
There are some municipalities that also prohibit governmental rental assistance discrimination: Buffalo, Hamburg and West Seneca in Erie County; and Nassau, Westchester and Suffolk counties.
Obtaining an order of protection
A new statewide pilot program is under development that will allow domestic violence victims to electronically apply for temporary orders of protection.
Through the program, the orders of protection can also be translated into the victim’s main language.
Places of public accommodation are also prohibited from discriminating against victims of domestic violence.
In Westchester County, places of public accommodation, such as resorts and amusement parks, are required to provide fair treatment to victims of domestic violence.
Also in Westchester, landlords can require victims who are seeking protection to present documentation of abuse.
However it is the landlord’s responsibility to keep these documents confidential.
In New York City, if a victim previously fled their primary residence due to a violent environment and wants to return, their landlord must provide them with a 30-day notice before they attempt to reclaim the place of residence.
The “Victims of Domestic Violence: Know Your Rights” brochure, which features the campaign’s purple theme can be found https://ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/victims_of_domestic_violence_revised_pamphlet.pdf
To file a complaint, contact the New York State Division of Human Rights at 1-888-392-3644 or the Office of the Attorney General’s Labor Bureau at 212-416-8700 or the Civil Rights Bureau 212-416-8250.
The flyer reminds individuals to first contact 911 in the case of a life-threatening situation.