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Effective May 20, 2019 New York City will prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s sexual and reproductive health choices. This protection applies to employers with four or more employees.
The law defines sexual and reproductive health decisions 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 discrimination ban would include:
1. Fertility-related medical procedures,
2. Sexually transmitted disease prevention, testing and treatment, and
3. Family planning services and counseling, i.e., birth control drugs and supplies, emergency
contraception, sterilization procedures, pregnancy testing and abortion.
The New York City Commission on Human Rights (“Commission”) will be entrusted with enforcing the law. An employee who alleges a violation can file a complaint with the Commission or file a court action. Actions must be brought to the Commission within one year or filed in court within three years of the alleged violation.
Penalties can go as high as $250,000 for willful violations. If the action is filed in court, the individual could seek punitive damages, injunctive relief, attorneys’ fees and costs.
Employers need to be aware of this new law to ensure that employees are protected by its provisions. In addition, employers will need to reference this new discrimination area in their human resources policies.