A new labor law provision is in effect in New York state, intended to prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on reproductive health decision making.
At the heart of it, the new provisions prohibit employers from discriminating or taking any retaliatory action against an employee on the basis of the employee’s reproductive health decision making and may not require an employee to sign a waiver of the right to make their own reproductive health care decisions.
Of particular importance to employers, the new law requires an employer to include notice of the employees’ rights and remedies under Section 203-e in the handbook, if it has an employee handbook. The handbooks must be updated by January 7, 2020.
The statute also prohibits employers from accessing an employee’s personal information regarding reproductive health decision making. The new law does not specifically define “reproductive health decision making,” though it states that it includes, but is not limited to, “a decision to use or access a particular drug, device or medical service.”
If a violation of the statute occurs, an employee may bring a civil action in any court of competent jurisdiction against the employers for damages, including back pay, benefits, attorneys’ fees if the prevailing party, as well as injunctive relief, an order of reinstatement, and/or liquidated damages equal to 100 percent of the monetary damages, unless the employer demonstrates a good faith basis for believing its actions were in compliance with the law. An employee may recover separate penalties for an act of retaliation by the employer.
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