New York State Enacts Law Banning Discrimination Based on “Reproductive-Health” Decisions

Effective November 8, 2019, New York State passed a non-discrimination law addressing protections for employees and their reproductive and sexual health decisions, giving these employees protected status.

What the Law Covers
The New York State Labor Law, Section 203-e focuses on the protection of “reproductive health decision making,” defined as “including, but not limited to, the decision to use or access a particular drug, device or medical service.” Under this new law, employers cannot:

  • Access an employee’s (or employee’s dependent) reproductive health records without specific prior consent.
  • Retaliate in the form of compensation or other terms of employment because of an employee’s reproductive health decisions.
  • Insist on employees signing waivers that impede their right to reproductive decisions.

What Can Happen to An Employer Who Violates the Law
Any employee who is aggrieved based on discrimination because of their reproductive or sexual health choices can now sue their employer and potentially prevail. Should the employee prevail, the court can award back pay, benefits pay, and reinstatement to employment, all paid by the offending employer. Such awards go beyond other discrimination remedies, making this law very comprehensive in terms of trying to prevent discrimination in this area.

Further, Section 203-e prevents employers from “retaliating” against any employee bringing a lawsuit or testifying in a trial related to discrimination around reproductive health decisions.

Immediate Action Required by Employers
Unlike similar legislation enacted in the past, the immediacy of this law taking effect means that employers will need to rapidly update any employee policies and policy manuals around the issue of employee reproductive health decision-making rights and protections. Failure to comply could result in a costly outcome for any employer.

If You Are a Victim of Discrimination
Employment discrimination in any form is against the law, but filing a lawsuit and dealing with the court system can be incredibly intimidating. Strong legal representation can make all the difference.

The attorneys at Risman & Risman concentrate their practice in employment and labor law on behalf of employees in the New York Metropolitan area. Consultations are free, and our legal team will work tirelessly to achieve the best result in your matter. Please call us at 212-233-6400 to discuss your inquiry.