New York Employers Must Provide Same Bereavement Leave to Same-Sex Committed Couples

New York State law does not require employers to allow employees to take time off for bereavement leave. However, under New York’s new funeral and bereavement leave law, when a company does allow employees to take time off for the death of a spouse, or for the child, parent or other relative of their spouse, they also must offer the same bereavement leave to employees for the death of their same-sex committed partner, and for the child, parent or other relative of the employee’s same-sex committed partner.

Signed by Governor Patterson on August 31, 2010, this new law is an addition to New York’s Civil Rights Law. It defines “same-sex committed partners” as couples that are “financially and emotionally interdependent in a manner commonly presumed of spouses.” The law goes into effect today, October 29, 2010.

New York’s funeral and bereavement leave law was passed because individuals in same-sex relationships historically have been denied the right to civil marriage, and are often denied the right to bereavement leave to attend the funeral of their partners and their partners’ blood relatives. The New York State Senate and Assembly concluded that this failed to recognize the value that any committed relationship contributes to our communities. The Legislature also concluded that “enlightened companies with domestic partnership policies now allow this type of funeral or bereavement leave.”

Contact an experienced employment lawyer if you have experienced discrimination because of your sexual orientation, or a violation of one of your other employment law rights.

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