This legislation would amend the New York State Labor Law to create another protected class of employee based on that employee’s (or their dependent's) reproductive health decision making. The Business Council opposes this legislation.
The Business Council and its members support a work environment free from discrimination and harassment. And no work environment can be productive if hostile to employee’s (or their families) private health decisions. We believe there are sufficient protections in the law to prevent such a hostile work environment. State and Federal law and regulations provide employee protections and recourse should the work environment become hostile based on sex, familial status, association with someone in a protected class, disability, etc.
Our specific concerns regarding this legislation are twofold. First, the legislation provides the awarding of damages that include attorney fees. This has proven to increase the likelihood of lawsuits being brought without regard to their merit. This will increases the cost of doing business in New York - making it even more difficult for New York employers to compete in a national and world market.
Secondly, the provision that “an employer that provides an employee handbook to its employees must include in the handbook notice of employee rights and remedies under this section” will provide yet another barrier to employer compliance. Many of New York’s smaller employers often cobble together handbooks and don’t have the resources to have legal review for accuracy and completeness. Therefore, these employers - despite their best efforts to comply -find themselves in non-compliance solely for administrative reasons.
The administrative burden of maintaining a workforce in New York State becomes more cumbersome with each piece of well-meaning legislation implemented. As some point this burden becomes intolerable for many employers. For these reasons, The Business Council opposes this legislation and respectfully urges that it not be approved by the State Legislature.