New York Enacts Several Civil Rights Measures Affecting the Workplace

Changes Take Effect January 19, 2016

New York has enacted a series of changes to its workplace nondiscrimination laws. The changes take effect on January 19, 2016. A summary of the key changes is presented below:

  • Expanded Coverage for Sexual Harassment Actions. A new lawprovides that the state nondiscrimination law’s prohibitions againstsexual harassment apply to all employers—regardless of size. (Prior to January 19, 2016, the provisions regarding sexual harassment are applicable to employers with 4 or more employees.)
  • Pay Equity and Sharing of Wage Information. An amended lawprovides that (among other things) an employer cannot prohibit an employee from inquiring about, discussing, or disclosing his or her wages or the wages of another employee. However, an employer may—in a written policy provided to all employees—establish reasonable workplace and workday limitations on the time, place, and manner for such inquiries, discussions, or disclosures.
  • Discrimination Based on Family Status Prohibited. An amended law (applicable to employers with 4 or more employees) prohibits discrimination in employment based on familial status.
  • Clarification Regarding Pregnancy-Related Conditions. A new measure clarifies that employers with 4 or more employees are generally prohibited from refusing to provide reasonable accommodations to the known disabilities—or pregnancy-related conditions—of an employee/applicant in connection with a job or occupation sought or held. Additionally, pregnancy-related conditions must be treated as temporary disabilities under the law.

The governor’s office has issued a press release regarding the new legislation. Additional information regarding New York workplace nondiscrimination law is available from the New York State Division of Human Rights.

To review other state laws specific to New York, visit the State Lawssection, click on New York, and choose your topic of interest from the left-hand navigation menu.

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