Assemblymember Didi Barrett: As We Celebrate New Equality Laws, Essential Work Remains

Marking significant progress in efforts to break down barriers to women’s equality, Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-Columbia, Dutchess) announced that a number of important bills passed last year take effect today.

“All my life I have fought to ensure women and girls have equal rights and equal opportunities in our society,” Assemblymember Barrett said. “Whether it relates to their professional career, family life or personal health care decisions, women must be allowed an even playing field.”

Last year, New York State made progress by passing a series of new laws that took effect today. These addressed women’s rights in the workplace, including prohibiting employers from paying women less than men based solely on gender even if they work in different locations, and protecting workers from retaliation for sharing wage information (Ch. 362 of 2015). In addition, women are now protected against sexual harassment even at small companies that were once exempt (Ch. 363 of 2015), and victims of employment or credit discrimination based on sex will now be able to recoup attorney’s fees (Ch. 364 of 2015). Further laws include prohibiting employers from discriminating based on an employee’s familial status (Ch. 365 of 2015) and a requirement of reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees who may need adjustments to their work schedules or job duties (Ch. 369 of 2015).

Other new laws will also provide additional safeguards to women by:
  • protecting individuals from being discriminated against or evicted from their homes based on their status as victims of domestic violence (Ch. 366 of 2015); and
  • bolstering the state’s existing human trafficking measures, increasing penalties for perpetrators, providing training for law enforcement and empowering victims to sue for damages (Ch. 368 of 2015).
“These laws continue the march toward gender equality,” Barrett stated. “But we still have work to do in New York State to provide paid family and medical leave and a fair livable wage – as working mothers are increasingly heads of households – and to ensure women the critical right to make decisions about their own bodies.”