New York, as a whole, has been proactive about protecting employees’ rights. As of January 7, 2020, for example, New York Labor Law Section 203-E went into effect, and it prohibits employers from accessing any personal information regarding the reproductive decisions of their employees (or their employees’ dependents) without written consent.
Further, if an employer does become aware of an employee’s (or their dependants’) decisions about their reproductive health, the employer is expressly forbidden from retaliatory or discriminatory actions based on that information.
Why did New York enact this new rule?
Essentially, the legislature wants people to have the freedom to make reproductive choices without fear of losing their jobs or other discriminatory action — and that’s more plausible than many people may realize.
Consider this: You work for a small company that is owned by a family whose strong religious beliefs prohibit them from using birth control of any kind. Your employer is self-insured, so they find out that you’ve been prescribed birth control medication — including a “morning after” pill to prevent pregnancy.
The next thing you know, you’re being treated differently. Your employer makes some vague comments to you about your morality and makes it clear they disapprove. Plus, your work is suddenly no longer satisfactory. It isn’t long before you’re shown the door.
Under Section 203-E, you have rights to bring civil action against your employer for such discrimination. If the judgment is in your favor, you may be given monetary damages, injunctive relief and reinstatement. Your employer may also be subject to financial penalties for being in violation of the law.
Employer discrimination is a serious problem — and you never really know when it will occur. If you’ve experienced discrimination based on your reproductive choices, it may be time to find out more about your legal options — especially here in New York.