May 27, 2019 Employment Discrimination

As of May 20, 2019, New York City’s Human Rights Law Prohibits Discrimination Based on “Sexual and Reproductive Health Decisions”

On January 20, 2019, a new amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law (the “NYCHRL”) became law, further broadening the list of protected classes under the NYCHRL by prohibiting discrimination or harassment based on an individual’s “sexual and reproductive health decisions.” The amendment, Int. No. 863-A, takes effect on May 20, 2019, the 120th day after its enactment.

The official bill summary for Int. No. 863-A explains that it is intended to “prohibit discrimination in employment, and discriminatory harassment or violence, based on an individual’s sexual and reproductive health decisions.” As such, as of May 20, 2019, covered employers are prohibited from taking any adverse employment actions against job applicants or employees based on “sexual or reproductive health decisions.”

Under the law, “sexual and reproductive health decisions” means “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 new amendment also provides a non-exhaustive list of these services, such as:

  • 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 NYCHRL applies to all New York City employers with four or more employees. Accordingly, all employers subject to the NYCHRL should take proactive steps to make sure their existing equal employment opportunity and anti-discrimination policies and employee handbooks are updated to comply with the new amendment, and that supervisors, managers, and human resources staff are informed of the new protected category.

Please do not hesitate to contact any of our attorneys if you have any questions regarding these changes or would like assistance reviewing and updating your policies.