Protections for Members of the Military Armed Forces: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Who is protected under the Law?
A. The law protects those who are currently serving or previously served in the uniformed services. This includes the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Army National Guard, Air National Guard, NOAA Commissioned Corps, Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, the organized militia of any U.S. state or territory, or U.S. or state military reserves.

Q. Who is covered under the Law?
A. As with the majority of protections under the NYC Human Rights Law, the new Law applies to, among others:

  • Employers with four or more employees, which includes owners and workers of all types, such as part-time, full-time, interns, and most independent contractors
  • All those involved in the sale or rental of most housing in NYC, including brokers, real estate agents, management companies, landlords, and owners. This includes anyone who sells, rents, or advertises a housing accommodation in NYC, except (i) two-family homes where the owner or a member of the owner’s family resides in that house and the available housing accommodation was not advertised, or (ii) a room or rooms in housing where the owner or the owner’s family also resides
  • All businesses and facilities that are open to the public
  • Labor unions

Q. Does the Law apply to discrimination based on discharge status?
A. The Law covers discrimination based on one’s current or prior membership in the military armed forces and does not address discharge status or potential conduct that may have led to someone’s discharge. Note that, people are protected from discrimination on other bases that may be directly related to discharge status, such as one’s actual or perceived disability or sexual orientation. Using discharge status as a cover for discrimination is a violation of the NYC Human Rights Law.

Q. Does the Law prohibit preferential treatment toward individuals based on membership in the military?
A. Unlike other areas of the Law, the Law specifically provides that preferential treatment based on membership in the military is lawful. For example, housing providers may set aside housing accommodations that are specifically intended for veterans, and businesses may offer discounts for service members that are not available to other patrons.

Q. Does the Law prohibit differential treatment among members of the military armed forces, such as between reservists and those on active duty?
A. Generally, no.  For example, an employer may offer benefits to active duty Army service members that are not available for Army reservists. Similarly, a business may offer a discount only to Navy service members during Fleet Week, without offering a similar discount to other types of military service members.

Q. What is the effective date of the Law?
A. Protections for military service members under the NYC Human Rights Law are effective November 18, 2017. They are not retroactive.

Q. What other protections should covered entities bear in mind when interacting with members of the military armed forces?
A. The new Law adds explicit protections against discrimination that is based on a person’s current or prior military service; however, there are other protections under the NYC Human Rights Law that may often be relevant when interacting with military service members, including protections based on disability and lawful source of income, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of using rental subsidies or vouchers. For example, veterans may not be denied housing because of their reliance on the G.I. Bill housing stipend to subsidize their rent. For more information about the use of the G.I. Bill housing stipend, please see our fact sheet.