On November 21, 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law legislation meant to protect workers from being disciplined for taking protected leave. The law takes effect on February 19, 2023. The new law amends and expands section 215 of the New York Labor Law, which generally provides workers protection from retaliation by their employer for making complaints about their employer or cooperating with investigations against their employer.
Employers will be prohibited from retaliating against workers for using legally protected leave. The law prohibits employers from penalizing employees for using leave for legally protected absences, such as sick leave or paid family leave. The law specifically targets “no-fault” attendance policies which treat all absences equally regardless of reason. Legislators believe that this practice discourages employees from taking leave and the new law is intended to enable workers to pursue medical, caregiving, and religious needs without penalty. Although the law does not define what constitutes “a legally protected absence,” it lists as some protected reasons “certain illnesses, health conditions, or disabilities, or for the need to care for an ill loved one under state, local, and federal civil rights laws.”