It’s certainly not an issue families or nannies want to have to discuss, but unfortunately sometimes it’s unavoidable. Domestic violence can impact people in all professions, and employers – including household employers – have certain responsibilities. Here are some things to know about domestic violence and nannies in New York state.
- You cannot punish a nanny or other employee who is a victim of domestic violence for taking time off to go to court. It is illegal to punish or fire an employee who is a victim of a crime for taking time off to appear in court as a witness, to consult with a district attorney, or to obtain an order of protection. You do not need to pay an employee for the time that she is absent and you can ask her to provide documentation that she was in fact in court.
- It is illegal to discriminate against or fire a nanny or other employee because s/he is a victim of domestic violence. The New York State Human Rights Law prohibits employment discrimination against victims of domestic violence. Sometimes abusers harass their victims at work, either by telephone or in person. Although it is unfortunate that this may disrupt your workplace, it may be illegal to punish or fire a victim because of the acts of her abuser. Remember, she does not have control over the acts of her abuser.
- If an employee quits or leaves her job because of the violence, that should not bar them from receiving unemployment insurance benefits. If domestic violence causes a person to leave a job because they believe that continued employment would jeopardize their safety or that of their immediate family member, that may be “good cause.” Also, judges have held that “misconduct” related to the violence (such as absenteeism or tardiness) may not bar benefits. Note: your nanny or other employee must be paid legally to receive unemployment insurance.
Here are some resources if you or anyone you know needs help with domestic violence issues:
- New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence: 1-800-942-6906; www.nyscadv.org
- NYS Spanish Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-942-6908; www.vipmujeres.org
- New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence: 518-457-5800; www.opdv.state.ny.us
Please contact us at (518) 348-0400 if you have any questions.