Bereavement Leave Obligations Extended to Same-Sex Partners in New York

New York State employers who extend funeral or bereavement leave to employees after the death of a relative must, effective October 29, 2010, provide the same leave after the death of a same-sex committed partner. Although this amendment to the New York Civil Rights Law creates no obligation for employers who do not offer funeral or bereavement leave to any employees, it does require a change for the many New York employers who currently provide such leave to various groups of defined relatives, but not to same-sex committed partners. Those policies and related practices should be revised promptly to comply with the new law. Additionally, while the new law does not apply to employers outside New York State, they may want to consider similar revisions for business reasons.