New York City Bans Discrimination Based on Reproductive & Sexual Health Choices

03.21.2019

By: Justine L. Abrams

The New York City Council recently passed Int. 0863-2018, a bill which amends the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) to prohibit employment discrimination and harassment on the basis of “sexual and reproductive health decisions.”  The amendment, coined the New York City “Boss Bill,” generally prohibits covered employers from taking adverse employment actions against job applicants and employees based on family planning, reproductive or other sexual health decisions.  The amendment applies to New York City employers with 4 or more employees and will go into effect on May 20, 2019.

This new category adds to the growing list of protected categories under the NYCHRL, which includes 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.

“Sexual and reproductive health decisions” are defined as “any decision by an individual to receive services, which are arranged for or offered or provided to individuals relating to sexual and reproductive health, including the reproductive system and its functions.”  The amendment lists the following examples of such services:

  • Fertility-related medical procedures;
  • Sexually transmitted disease prevention, testing, and treatment; and
  • Family planning services and counseling, such as birth control drugs and supplies, emergency contraception, sterilization  procedures, pregnancy testing, and abortion.

The amendment appears to be the first of its kind in the nation.  Supporters tout it as a counterpunch to the rule, adopted at the federal level in 2017, allowing employers and universities to drop birth-control coverage from their health plans. 

Bottom Line

In anticipation of the amendment’s effective date, covered employers should update their employee handbooks, equal employment opportunity and anti-discrimination policies, and training programs by adding “sexual and reproductive health decisions” to the list of categories upon which employees are protected from discrimination.  They should also instruct human resources personnel, recruitment personnel, and supervisory employees that information related to an individual’s reproductive or sexual health should not affect employment decisions.  The amendment should also serve as a good reminder to New York City employers that employee protections are ever-expanding and that staying current on new legal developments is a must.

For questions on compliance with this amendment or any of the other many new developments to the NYCHRL, please contact Dina M. Mastellone, Esq., Chair of the firm’s Human Resources Counseling & Compliance Practice Group, at dmastellone@genovaburns.com, or Justine L. Abrams, Esq., at jabrams@genovaburns.com, or at 973-533-0777.

Tags: Justine L. AbramsNYCHRLNew YorkDiscriminationHuman ResourcesHR Law

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