New Year, New Rights for Women in New York

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Today, key bills from Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act, originally introduced in 2013, go into effect in New York State. A Better Balance played a lead role in pushing forward crucial provisions to eradicate pay discrimination, promote fair treatment of pregnant workers, and prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of family status. To learn more about each of these provisions, check out A Better Balance’s NY Women’s Equality “Know Your Rights” brochure.

The equal pay provision tightens exceptions in the previous version of the labor law, which allowed employers to cite nearly any factor other than sex—legitimate or otherwise—to justify pay differentials between male and female employees. Under the new law, all differences in pay between men and women must be “job-related” and “consistent with business necessity.” The bill also eliminates a loophole that allowed employers to prohibit employees from discussing their salaries under threat of termination or suspension. This new protection promotes transparency to shine a light on unfair pay practices. See our Know Your Rights flyer on Equal Pay in New York for more information.

The pregnancy accommodations provision strengthens antidiscrimination protections for pregnant workers in New York State, and those recovering from childbirth. Workers who are pregnant or experiencing a pregnancy-related condition now have a clear right to reasonable workplace accommodations, absent undue hardship, so they do not have to choose between their economic security and physical well-being. See our Know Your Rights flyer on Pregnancy Accommodations At Work for more information.

Finally, the family status provision makes family status a protected category under New York’s employment discrimination law. Specifically, it is now illegal for employers to discriminate against workers with children under age 18.  See our Know Your Rights flyer on Family Status Discriminationfor more information.

Related legislation also taking effect today includes a bill that will allow an employee of any business to file a complaint alleging sexual harassment in the workplace, regardless of the size of the employer. These important new laws will help break down barriers that perpetuate discrimination and inequality against women in the workplace, and in society at large. We thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership in spearheading the Women’s Equality Act, and our invaluable supporters who signed petitions, called legislators, and helped to advance equality and opportunity throughout New York.

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