Governor Hochul Signs Legislation Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence
Legislation (S.8417B/A.9601B) Prohibits Discrimination Against Victims of Domestic Violence
New York (STL.News) Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation protecting victims of domestic violence from discrimination. Legislation (S.8417B/A.9601B) expands protections for victims of domestic violence to areas of discrimination where they were not previously guaranteed, such as housing and public accommodations. By signing this legislation, Governor Hochul has accomplished a key legislative priority she proposed in her 2022 State of the State.
“The pandemic has led to a heartbreaking increase in domestic and gender-based violence, and New York must stand strong to protect survivors,” Governor Hochul said. “Ever since I helped my mother open a home for survivors of domestic violence, I’ve made it a personal priority to do everything in my power to stand with and support survivors. I’m proud to sign this legislation, a critically important step to ensure survivors can safely access the services they need without fear of discrimination or retaliation.”
This bill will expand coverage under the Human Rights Law and improve access to the Division of Human Rights complaint process for victims of domestic violence by prohibiting discrimination against victims of domestic violence in every context covered by New York’s anti-discrimination law, including housing, education, and public accommodations.
Prior to this, victims of domestic violence were only covered as a protected class under the employment provisions of the Human Rights Law. However, employment is not the only context in which a victim might face discrimination, making this expansion to other areas such as housing and public accommodations necessary, and further instituting a survivor-centered, trauma-informed, and culturally responsive lens to New York State’s response to survivors.
New York’s Human Rights Law is the oldest anti-discrimination law in the country, and New York was also the first state to create a permanent agency enforcing anti-discrimination laws. The bill signed by the Governor today reflects New York State’s ongoing commitment to expanding the Human Rights Law’s protections and ensuring that all New Yorkers can live free from discrimination.
State Senator Roxanne Persaud said, “Discrimination against victims and survivors of domestic violence compounds the barriers they already face in recovering and rebuilding their lives. I am proud to work with Governor Hochul in codifying these protections against discrimination in housing, credit, public accommodations, educational institutions, and other areas in which survivors experience undue difficulties. I am also thankful to my colleague Assembly member Nikki Lucas for introducing this very important legislation. No New Yorker should face discrimination as a victim or survivor of domestic violence.”
Assembly member Nikki Lucas said, “Victims of domestic violence are faced with a host of challenges but battling discrimination should not be one of them. This bill adds protection for victims under the Human Rights law, which, before this legislation, had only protected victims against employment discrimination. This bill includes protection in areas of publicly-assisted housing, private housing, apprenticeship training programs, public accommodations, real estate professionals and other areas. I am thrilled that the legislation passed unanimously, with both Republicans and Democrats voting for the bill. I am equally thrilled that Governor Hochul has prioritize the signing of this bill into law so quickly.”
Domestic violence is a serious issue facing hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, primarily women. In 2020, there were 165,577 domestic violence orders of protection issued in New York State, according to the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV). During the COVID-19 pandemic, the problems were exacerbated, with calls to the New York State hotline increasing by nearly 45 percent.
This legislation builds on the Governor’s accomplishments from this year’s enacted Fiscal Year 2023 budget, including nearly $90 million in funding for domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs and aid for survivors and their families. The Governor also allocated $14.4 million to the Office of Victim Services to support victim service providers and allow the programs they offer to continue operating without interruption – despite significant loss in federal Victims of Crime Act funding.