News Law and Policy

‘Boss Bill’ Passes New York Senate Committee

Teddy Wilson

The proposed law would update New York’s existing workplace anti-discrimination laws to prohibit an employer from discriminating against an employee on the basis of their reproductive health-care decisions.

A bill that would make it illegal for employers to discriminate against their employees because of their reproductive health-care decisions is headed for a possible vote on the floor of the New York Senate after clearing a labor committee Tuesday.

S 6578A, sponsored by Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), has been nicknamed the “Boss Bill” by supporters. The proposed law would update New York’s existing workplace anti-discrimination laws to prohibit an employer from discriminating against an employee on the basis of their reproductive health decisions. This would include decisions to use any medication, medical device, or other medical service. It would also prohibit discrimination based on an employer’s personal beliefs about such services.

Sen. Krueger told Rewire that she feels this is an important bill to introduce because current state law does not protect people from employment discrimination for reproductive health-care decisions. Citing the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby case currently being decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, Krueger said if employers are allowed to deny access to reproductive health care then there is nothing preventing an employer from firing an employee for reproductive health-care decisions.

There currently are dozens of lawsuits by employers who claim the Affordable Care Act requirement to provide birth control coverage in health insurance plans violates their personal and religious beliefs.

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“This law would not be specific to women, it would be men and women,” said Krueger. While much of the focus around reproductive health care centers on abortion and birth control, Krueger says the law is designed to include protections for the full range of reproductive health-care decisions, from individuals who choose to have children outside of marriage to men who choose to have vasectomies.

Krueger is optimistic about the bill’s chances of being passed by the Repubican-controlled senate. While senate Republicans previously blocked a bill to expand access to abortion care in the state, Krueger thinks her bill may have a less challenging path to becoming law. “If it comes to the floor I believe it will pass, based on conversations I’ve had with Republican colleagues,” she said.

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