Following the trend set by the Pay Transparency Executive Order 13665 and Governor Jerry Brown’s signing of the California Fair Pay Act, this week New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo (D) signed a series of bills aimed at significantly strengthening fair pay, “pay transparency” and other legal protections available in the workplace.

The five new bills impact New York employers in the following ways:

  • Fair Pay and “Pay Transparency”:  S. 1 / A. 6075 adds a number of protections for employees in New York, including: (1) prohibiting employers from discriminating against an employee who inquires about, discusses or discloses his/her wages or the wages of another employee; (2) narrowing the exceptions available to employers under N.Y. Labor Law 194, the state law that prohibits differentials in rate of pay due to sex; and (3) increasing the amount of damages available to an employee for a willful violation of N.Y. Labor Law 194.
  • Sexual Harassment:  S. 2 / A. 5360 eliminates entirely the current 4 employee coverage threshold for employers under the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”), but only as it relates to sexual harassment protections.  According to the bill, more than 60% of New York employers have less than 4 employees, and these employers will now be covered.
  • Collection of Attorney’s Fees By Successful Plaintiffs:  S. 3 / A.7189 allows plaintiffs to recover attorneys’ fees where an employer is found liable for committing an unlawful discriminatory practice in employment or credit discrimination cases involving sexunder the NYSHRL.
  • Familial Status Discrimination: S. 4 / A. 7317 prohibits employment discrimination based on familial status under the NYSHRL.
  • Accommodations for Pregnancy-Related Conditions: S. 8/A. 4272 requires/clarifies that employers must provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related conditions, unless doing so would cause an undue hardship to the employer.

These bills become effective 90 days after enactment and will have a substantial impact on employers throughout New York.  This likely will not be the last state we see following this growing trend.  Stay tuned for the latest updates and further insights on the implementation and implications of these new bills.