Can My Employer Retaliate Against Me for Taking Legally Protected Work Absences in New York?

August 14, 2023

Federal and New York laws protect an employee’s right to be absent from work for a variety of reasons, including disability, caring for a sick family member, and civic responsibilities such as jury duty. A recent amendment to New York Labor Law § 215 enhances those protections by making it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who take legally protected absences, and giving employees who experience retaliation the right to sue their employer for compensation and other remedies.

What Is New York Labor Law § 215?

New York Labor Law § 215 is a statute that prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who engage in protected activities related to wage claims or other violations of state labor law. These protected activities include complaining to employers, enforcement agencies or courts, and providing information or testifying in any labor law investigation or proceeding. The statute aims to protect employees who exercise their legal rights, ensuring they are not subject to unfair treatment or adverse employment actions.

The Amendment to New York Labor Law § 215

Effective February 2023, New York Labor Law § 215 protects employees who use any legally protected work absence under federal, local, or state law. This means employees who take paid sick days, jury duty, federal holidays, and family and disability leave are now protected from retaliation by their employers.

Implications for Disability-Related and Family Leave Claims

The amendment to New York Labor Law § 215 has significant crossover potential with disability and family leave claims in the state. Previously, employees had limited avenues for recourse if they faced retaliation for using New York City Paid Sick Leave and New York State Paid Family Leave. With the expansion of § 215, employees now have a private right of action against employers who retaliate against them for using these legally protected absences. Employees can now seek relief through the courts for such violations, potentially resulting in greater accountability for employers who violate the law and stronger protections for employees.

What This Means for Employees

As an employee in New York State, you now have additional protections if your employer retaliates against you for taking legally protected absences, including sick, family, or disability leave. You can also pursue a private right of action for violations of New York City’s Paid Sick Leave and New York State Paid Family Leave laws and can hold your employer accountable for any mistreatment. The bottom line – employees in New York State can now feel more secure in taking legally protected time off without fear of retaliation from their employer.

Outten & Golden: Protecting the Rights of New York Employees

If you have questions about this recent amendment or believe your employer has retaliated against you for exercising your legal rights, please contact Outten & Golden today to discuss your situation.

(*Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.)