New York Enacts New Protections for Women in the Workplace
The workplace can be a very stressful place for people. Women can especially have a hard time in the workplace. There are a lot of problems that women can undergo such as sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination. Even in female dominated groups, women can be faced with issues in the workplace like bullying and workplace mobbing.
New Efforts for Equality
Fortunately, there are efforts being made in order to provide better protection for women in the workplace so that they can feel safer. This also makes it so that women can face better health conditions from their workplace. Then there are other benefits for women.
Series of Bills Signed
Andrew Cuomo, the New York Governor has signed a series of bills that adds to the gender based protections in the workforce. This is part of the Women’s Equality Act which was brought to the people in 2013 with the aim to fight against discrimination in the workplace on the basis of genders. There are new laws which will be discussed that are going to enforced on January 19, 2016.
These laws will bring pay equality among the genders. That way, there will be fewer complaints about pay inequality based on gender instead of job. There will also be other benefits in the workplace for women.
Equal Pay Protection
The first signed bill deals with changes to the New York Labor Law section 194. This section deals with gender pay. The law basically states that no one is to pay someone on the basis of one’s gender. Any difference in pay can be carried out on the basis other than sex.
The second amendment makes it clear that if the employees are working for the employer at different locations within the same region, then they could pursue claims of gender-based pay disparity if there is disparity among workers at different facilities. The facilities have to be in the same region. Otherwise, the claims will be thrown out.
The third amendment forbids an employer from stopping an employee from discussing his or her wages or the wages of another employee. Employers can have a written policy that places limits on such discussion.
The fourth amendment allows the victim to recover damages in the case of a willful violation of this section of the new law. This allows for up 300% of unpaid damages to the employee. This is actually three times the amount that employees can be compensated for other violations of labor laws.
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Pregnant Employees Accommodation
The second bill states that employers are to be able to accommodations for pregnant employees. This new law deals with pregnancy-related conditions which are medical conditions related to birth that gets in the way of bodily function. Due to the new law, interactions and accommodation requests are going to have to be met by the employer. At the same time, the employee is going to have to provide necessary information to the employer.
Familial Status Discrimination
This law places the family status of an individual in equality with race, age, religion, gender and other characteristics that are protected by law. This prohibits employers from discriminating against employees for their familial status. For instance, an employer can’t discriminate against someone because of a child.
Accommodation for Families
One thing that the law also makes clear is that the employer does not have to accommodate for the familial status of the employee. The employer is just supposed to treat the employee as equal to the other employees. He should not single out, target, or harass any employee on the basis of his status.
The fourth signed bill allows the Human Rights division to award attorney’s fees to the winning party. These fees previously could not be recovered. However, when it comes to discrimination claims, gender-based discrimination is awarded attorneys’ fees.
Employers and Attorneys’ Fees
Employers can also recover attorneys’ fees. However, there is a criterion that must be met. The employer has to be able to prove that the claims of the employee are false.
All Employers Can Be Charged With Sexual Harassment
For the longest time, only individuals that worked for companies of at least four employees were protected. However, the bill that Cuomo signed states that employers of all sizes could be charged with sexual harassment. Small businesses are going to have to deal with anti-harassment regulations.
This new bill does have a lot of promise in providing women with needed protection in the workplace. It also helps with gender equality in many cases. The end goal is to make sure all parties are protected when it comes to the workplace. Claims of sexual harassment and other forms of workplace discrimination are going to be looked into more closely.
Time of New Bill
Even though the bills do not go into effect until January of 2016, now is still a good time for employers to practice following the new regulations. It is important for employers to start working on treating their employees equal. Otherwise, they may be faced with harsh repercussions.
Article provided by NECHES FCU, an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer.
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