How Does New York's Women's Equality Act Protect Women?

The New York Women's Equality Act was signed into law in October of 2015 by Governor Cuomo.

What the New York Women's Equality Act does is it adds protections for women in the workplace.

The New York Women's Equality Act is comprised of 5 bills that focus on:

1.Equal Pay

There was already the NY State Labor Law that required employers to pay men and women equal pay for equal work, but with some exceptions. The NY Women's equality act did four things to strengthen the law and make it easier for victims to prove violations:

  1. It took out the provision in the NY State Labor Law that allowed employers to argue against equal pay due to "any factor other than sex".
  2. It amended a section so as not to allow different pay for the same work if the two workers being compared worked in different geographical locations no farther than a county apart.
  3. It stopped employers from prohibiting employees from sharing wage information between each other. However, employers are still allowed rules to limit when and where employees may discuss such information.
  4. Employees who did not receive equal pay for equal work are entitled to receive 300%, or three times, the money for any unpaid wages. This is increased from 100%.
  5. Sexual harassment claims

Prior to this bill, the NY State Human Rights Law and Title VII statutes protected employees in businesses that had more than four employees from discriminatory practices. This bill, however, amends the NY State Human Rights Law statutes to protect employees of businesses of any size from sexual harassment.

2. Recovery of Attorney Fees In Cases of Employment Sex Discrimination

The New York State Human Rights Law did not provide for victims of sex discrimination in employment cases before this bill amended that, but the New York City Human Rights Law and Title VII already provided statutes that covered attorney fee awards for the winning party of discrimination claims.

3.Familial Status Discrimination

This amends the NY State Human Rights Law to include a prohibition against employers who discriminate against applicants or employees based on familial status. Familial status refers to any person who is pregnant, has a child, or who is in the process of securing legal custody of another person under the age of eighteen. This bill allows applicants and employees to raise a claim if they were denied employment, denied a promotion, or fired due to their familial status.

4.Pregnancy Accommodations

The bills also amend the NY State Human Rights Law statutes to add protections for pregnant women. It requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation for employees who have a pregnancy related condition if it would help their employee perform their job. The only exception is if it would cause the employer's business undue hardship.


New York employment law attorney ad