Both New York State and New York City recently enacted legislation and guidance expanding immigrant protections.
New York State's Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) and New York City's Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) prohibit employers with four or more employees from discriminating against individuals based on race, creed, and national origin, among other characteristics. The NYSHRL and NYCHRL also prohibit all employers from subjecting applicants and employees to sexual harassment.
Note: Effective February 8, 2020, the NYSHRL will expand to cover all private employers in New York.
New York State Expansions (Senate Bill 5791):
Effective October 27, 2019, Senate Bill 5791 prohibits employers from:
- Threatening to contact or contacting U.S. immigration authorities; or
- Reporting or threatening to report an employee's suspected citizenship or immigration status, or the suspected citizenship or immigration status of an employee's family or household member to a federal, state, or local agency.
New York City Clarified Rules:
Under clarified rules posted by the NYC Human Right's Commission on September 25, 2019, New York City employers may not:
- Discriminate among work-authorized individuals (citizens, permanent residents, refugees, asylees, and those granted lawful temporary status), unless required or explicitly permitted by law.
- Exploit, harass, or otherwise discriminate against an employee that the employer decides to hire, regardless of that employee's work authorization.
- Ask applicants questions related to work authorization in an inconsistent manner based on actual or perceived immigration status or national origin. For example, an employer may not ask someone who has an accent whether they have work authorization if the employer does not ask the same question of someone who does not have an accent.
- Treat unauthorized workers differently than any other employee because of their immigration status.
- Ask to see work authorization documents before an individual accepts a job offer.
- Demand an employee show specific documents, such as a green card or birth certificate, to establish identity and/or work authorization, demand specific documents beyond what is required to establish work authorization under federal law, or refuse to accept a document, or refuse to hire an individual because a document will expire in the future.
- Reverify employment outside circumstances permitted under federal law.
- Use the term "illegal alien" with the intent to demean, humiliate, or harass a person.
- Discriminate against someone because of their accent, English proficiency, or use of another language.
- Threaten to call federal immigration authorities based on a discriminatory motive, or threatening to call authorities to force employees to work in unsafe, unequal, or otherwise unlawful conditions.
The guidance provides additional examples of prohibited employer actions.
Employer Immigration Worksite Enforcement:
Employers should understand the rights of immigrant workers in the event of an audit or worksite raid. Employers are encouraged to give notice to their employees when they know or suspect that an audit or raid will occur so that employees have an opportunity to update any necessary documents and make other preparations.
New York State and New York City employers should review their policies and practices to ensure compliance with expanded immigrant protections. Please contact your dedicated service professional with any questions.