New law in New York Prohibits Discrimination based on Reproductive Choices
Updated: Nov 18, 2019
On November 8, 2019, the Governor signed a bill into law, sponsored by New York State Senator Jen Metzger (42nd District), adding Section 203-e to New York Labor Law. The new law prohibits employment decisions against an employee based on the employee's or a dependent's reproductive health decisions. Under this law, employers are also prohibited from gaining access to information about an employee or a dependent's reproductive health decisions, including the decision to use or access a particular drug, device or medical service without the employee's prior written consent.
An employee can bring a legal action under this new section. If he or she prevails, the Court may award damages in the form of backpay, attorney's fees and costs, reinstatement to the position. A court may also impose liquidated damages equal to one hundred percent of the award for damages, unless the employer presents evidence of a good faith basis to believe its decision was lawful. There are separate civil penalties provided in the law, if an employee is retaliated against for complaining, testifying , or otherwise exercising the right to oppose discriminatory practices.
Employers are also required to include a notice in employee handbooks of employee rights and remedies under this section.
This bill does not define the term "dependent" so how that term is defined will need to be drawn from other federal and state laws, but usually encompasses spouses and minor children.
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