New York state employers, it’s time to dust off and update your employee handbooks again. Earlier this month, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law that protects employees against discrimination on the basis of their reproductive health decision-making. The law, which mirrors a recent bill passed by New York City lawmakers, also requires that employers in the state provide notice of the law in their employee handbooks/manuals.
Under the new law, employers are, effective immediately, prohibited from:
- accessing personal information about an employee’s (or their dependents’) reproductive health decisions, unless the employer receives prior, informed, and written consent;
- discriminating or taking retaliatory action against an employee on the basis of the employee’s (or their dependents’) reproductive health decision-making; or
- requiring an employee to sign a waiver to deny them the right to make their own reproductive health decisions.
The law defines reproductive health decisions as including, but not limited to, the decision to use or access a particular drug, device, or medical service.
Perhaps most important in the near term, the law requires that all New York state employers that furnish an employee handbook/manual to their employees, add a new section to such handbook/manual that provides employees with notice of their rights and remedies under the new law. This requires every employer in the Empire state, therefore, to take immediate action.