New York Adopts New Equal Pay Protections
January 6, 2016
New Equal Pay Protection Laws for Female Workers in New York Will Take Effect in a Few Days
This fall, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a series of bills into law that will dramatically increase the equal pay and gender discrimination protections for female workers in the state. For New York employers, it is important to be aware that many of the changes under these laws become effective in the New Year. Further, it should be clear that Employers would be well advised to engage in a careful analysis of its equal pay practices and other policies to insure that all new requirements are addressed.
New York Labor Law (NYLL) § 194 will undergo the most substantive changes under the package of equal pay bills. The statute previously allowed employee pay differentials based on “any other factor other than sex.” Under the amendment, differentials may be based upon “a bona fide factor other than sex, such as education, training, or experience.” Employers must be prepared to affirmatively demonstrate that any such differential is job related and “consistent with business necessity.” In addition, employers will not be able to rely on the “factor other than sex” defense if the employee can prove that:
- The employer’s practices cause a disparate impact on the basis of sex;
- An alternative employment practice would have served the same business purpose without disparate impact; and
- The employer refused to adopt the alternative practice.
|One of the new laws expands the definition of “employer” to cover all employers within New York in sexual harassment cases. Previously, the definition of “employer” excluded businesses with fewer than four employees, thereby prohibiting individuals from filing harassment complaints with the Division of Human Rights against those employers.|
|Under amendments the Human Rights Law, New York employers with four or more employees would be required to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. The new law clarifies that employers must perform a reasonable accommodation analysis for employees with a “medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth that inhibits the exercise of a normal bodily function or is demonstrable by medically accepted clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques.”|
|Further amendments to the HRL add familial status as a protected characteristic. Accordingly, the law now prohibits employment agencies, licensing agencies, or labor organizations from discriminating against workers based on their familial status.|
|Finally, another bill signed into law allows successful plaintiffs to recover attorneys’ fees in employment or credit discrimination cases based on sex.|