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New York City May Soon Protect Employees from Sexual and Reproductive Health Decision Discrimination

New York City might soon protect people from discrimination based on their decision to receive things like fertility-related procedures, family planning services, abortion procedures or birth-control.  Pending in the Committee on Civil and Human Rights of the New York City Council is Int. No. 863, a bill to prohibit employment discrimination based on an individual’s sexual and reproductive health choices. 

Under the proposed bill, “sexual and reproductive health decisions” means any decision “by the employee to receive services which are arranged for or offered or provided to individuals relating to

[1] the reproductive system and its functions, including, but not limited to, fertility-related medical procedures,

[2] family planning services and counseling, including, but not limited to, access to all medically approved birth control drugs and supplies, emergency contraception, sterilization procedures, pregnancy testing, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, abortion procedures and

[3] HIV testing and counseling.”

The NYC bill would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees who, among other things, choose to have an abortion or those who seek to have infertility treatments. This is not a new concept by any means. In fact, federal courts across the country are starting to take the position that discrimination for these types of activities is discrimination based on sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.  Therefore, sexual and reproductive health decisions may already be protected under federal law and the NYC bill would only solidify employee protections on the local level.

The bill serves as a good reminder for employers in New York City that employee protections under the law are ever-expanding.  Staying current on new developments is a must.  It’s unclear if this bill will ultimately become law, but remember there is a current trend towards granting these types of protections emerging in the federal courts. Be careful.   We will keep you posted with any updates.  Stay tuned. 

Brody and Associates regularly provides counsel on civil rights issues and employment laws in general.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560.