In Amaya v. Ballyshear LLC, et al., a case before a New York Federal District Court, Nelly Amaya, a Long Island resident, alleged that her former employers engaged in unlawful discrimination and retaliation, in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL). Amaya’s employers argued that Amaya failed to show that their alleged conduct had an “impact” on her within the confines of New York City. At the time of the alleged conduct, Amaya was employed as a housekeeper at Ballyshear, Michael Bloomberg’s Southampton, Long Island residence.

Despite the long-standing precedent that the protections of the NYCHRL are only afforded to those who inhabit or are “persons in” New York City, Amaya attempted to invoke the law’s broader protections by claiming that the following connections to city satisfied this requirement: (1) the decision to hire and fire her was made in New York City; (2) she attended several meetings in the corporate defendants’ New York City office; (3) supervisors in the New York City office interacted with her during the course of her employment; and (4) there was a possibility that she might work at other locations within New York City.

In considering each of Amaya’s arguments, the court held that (1) the location of an employment decision concerning a non-resident employee does not sufficiently impact the terms and conditions of employment within New York City so as to implicate an NYCHRL cause of action; (2) the location of employment-related meetings does not adequately impact the terms and conditions of employment within New York City, regardless of the number of meetings or whether any employment-related decisions were rendered; (3) accepting Amaya’s argument that mere interactions with a non-resident employee are sufficient would expand the scope of the NYCHRL to cover all decisions of city-based employers regardless of the location of their employees; and (4) the mere potential of being asked to work in the five boroughs is inadequate.

Based upon this reasoning, the court held that the alleged discrimination impacted the plaintiff exclusively on Long Island, and Amaya had no basis to invoke the protections of the NYCHRL.

Employers should ensure that employees alleging causes of action under the NYCHRL have legal standing to do so. If you have any questions or concerns about the validity of a potential or pending NYCHRL claim against you or your company, Reed Smith’s experienced Labor, Employment and Benefits Group is ready to speak with you. For more information regarding this amendment and the accompanying guidance, please contact your Reed Smith attorney.