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New York Court Overturns Law Requiring Contractors to Extend Benefits to Domestic Partners

A state appeals court recently overturned a New York City law requiring city contractors and vendors to extend employee benefits to domestic partners ( Council of the City of New York v. Bloomberg, N.Y. App. Div. No. 5995 3/15/05). The New York City Council passed the law (Local Law 27) in July 2004 citing states and localities around the United States enacting similar legislation. Opponents, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg who initially vetoed the bill, expressed concern the law would negatively affect contract procurement. 

After a lower court granted the council’s request to order the law’s implementation, the appeals court overturned the decision holding the law was pre-empted by both state and federal law. The court reasoned the provisions of New York’s General Municipal Law providing for competitive bidding allowed the city to obtain the best work for the lowest price. Thus, the court found Local Law 27 “expressly excludes a class of potential bidders for a reason unrelated to the quality or price of the goods or services their offered” in conflict with the goals of New York’s General Municipal Law. The court also held the law pre-empted by the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). For additional articles on civil rights issues, click here.

Brody and Associates counsels its clients regarding laws such as these. Should you have any questions, or require any help in keeping abreast of these developments, please contact us at (203) 965-0560 or at info@brodyandassociates.com.