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New York bill passes committee vote on way to Senate

The New York Senate Labor Committee voted on June 3 in favor of new legislation that would protect workers from unfair treatment based on the decisions they make regarding reproductive health care. The proposed law will now move to the Senate floor. While there were no committee votes against the bill, one member abstained. The proposed legislation is designed to protect employees from discrimination based on their choices regarding issues such as birth control and abortion.

The proposed law comes in the wake of an outcry by many employers over the Affordable Care Act. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed over the requirement that employers provide health insurance coverage that includes access to birth control. Many say that this provision goes against deeply held religious or moral beliefs. The proposed New York law would prevent employers applying similar standards to employment issues.

Backers of the bill are quick to point out that the goal is to protect all workers. While women may bear the brunt of this kind of discrimination, men who decide to have a vasectomy or adopt children outside of marriage could also face unfair treatment. While the republican-controlled Senate has denied bills of this nature in the past, several democrats behind the proposed law express optimism.

Although efforts to make the workplace less discriminatory should be welcomed, passing a law is only the first step in what can often be a long battle. Ensuring that employees are treated fairly then becomes the responsibility of the regulators tasked with enforcing state and federal laws. It also falls to attorneys who seek to hold employers responsible for treating their workers unfairly.

Source: RH Reality Check, "‘Boss Bill’ Passes New York Senate Committee", Teddy Wilson, June 05, 2014

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