In November of 2019, Governor Cuomo signed a bill that prevents employers from discriminating based on an employee’s or a dependent’s reproductive health decision making. There is now a required employee handbook update for New York employers regarding this bill. The handbook update must be implemented by Jan. 7, 2020.
The law does not require employers to have handbooks. However, any employer that does have one must ensure that it contains a notice regarding the new provision that was added to the state’s Labor Law in November 2019. Under that provision, all employers in the state are prohibited from (and may be sued for):
- Accessing personal information about employees’ (or their dependents’) reproductive health decisions without prior written consent;
- Discriminating or retaliating against an employee based on reproductive health decisions; and
- Requiring employees to waive any rights to make their own reproductive health decisions.
The law does not specify how the notice must be written. However, it does indicate that the notice must include information about both rights and remedies. Among other remedies, the law allows courts to award damages—including back pay, benefits, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs—plus double that amount as punitive damages against noncompliant employers.
Employers should ensure that their handbooks and other policies are updated accordingly. GTM can help – we’ll work with you to create an employee handbook that is compliant with state and federal laws. Our depth of knowledge in workplace policies and best practices ensures that the employees’ and employers’ needs are taken into account and will give the employer peace of mind. Request a free quote today.
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