What Does This New Protected Class Mean for NYC Employers?
New York City passed legislation that bans discrimination for sexual and reproductive health decisions.
While New York City has some of the United States’ most expansive human rights laws, this law gave specific rights, creating new protected class regarding “sexual and reproductive health decisions.” The law went into effect in New York City on May 20, 2019.
This new protected class joined the already existing anti-discrimination protected classes of New York City Human Rights Law. Protected classes include age, race, creed, color, national origin, gender, disability, marital status, partnership status, caregiver status, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation and alienage or citizenship status.
What Does the New Protected Category Mean in Everyday Language?
It means that employers are subject to discrimination litigation if they make decisions in hiring, promoting or firing employees based on this new class. Examples would be deciding to fire an employee because she got an abortion, or deciding not to hire an employee based on the employee’s decision whether to use or not use birth control.
According to an article in The National Law Review, the following are examples of services related to sexual and reproductive health decisions:
- Fertility-related medical procedures
- Sexually transmitted disease prevention, testing and treatment
- Family planning services and counseling
- Use of birth control drugs and supplies
- Emergency contraception
- Sterilization procedures
- Pregnancy testing
What Actions Should Employers Take?
As an employer, you should revise your handbooks and employment policies by adding the protected category of “sexual and reproductive health decisions.” You should also train your managers, employees and any HR personnel on this new legal change.
The repercussions of a lawsuit based on this protected class could result in having to hire or reinstate an employee, compensate for back pay, pay compensatory damages (and in extreme cases punitive damages), pay civil penalties and cover the employee’s attorney’s fees and costs.
Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates represent employers in employment related issues and can help you protect your rights.