New York has long served as a model/or equality and fairness on several issues including women's rights. At the 2013 State of the State Address, Governor Cuomo announced plans to advance a 10-Point Women's Equality Act that mil break down barriers that perpetuate discrimination and inequality based on gender.
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Updated: November 9, 2013
- Achieve Pay Equity
- Stop Sexual Harassment in All Workplaces
- Allow for the Recovery of Attorneys' Fees in Employment and Credit and Lending Cases
- Strengthen Human Trafficking Laws
- End Family Status Discrimination
- Stop Source-of-Income Discrimination
- Stop Housing Discrimination for Victims of Domestic Violence
- Stop Pregnancy Discrimination Once and For All
- Protect Victims of Domestic Violence by Strengthening Order-of-Protection Laws
- Protect Reproductive Health Decisions
- Women's agenda turns to City Council - One of the workplace measures pushed by A Better Balance would close what proponents of the bill call a "loophole" in New York's equal pay law that allows employers to justify paying female employees less than males. It would outlaw workplace wage-secrecy policies and increase damages available to litigants to 300% of unpaid wages. A second would require employers to provide reasonable accommodation to pregnant workers, such as allowing them a stool to sit on, more frequent restroom breaks and relief from heavy lifting. A third would outlaw discrimination against parents in the workplace.
- AAUW in the News: AAUW on women’s rights movement OpEd - It is becoming increasing clear as women’s equality and rights are eroded and stymied in state after state across the nation, that the right to vote is not enough to ensure equality. True equality will only come when all of the state houses and Congress are reflective of women politically in terms of numbers and when the leadership of those legislative bodies is equally reflective of gender, cultural and racial parity.
- NARAL disconnects from Women’s Equality Coalition
- For women, a clearer path - As disappointing as the outcome was, the state Senate's rejection of an abortion rights measure finally tells us all where each and every senator stands. And the warning is clear: This right is not secure in New York, not with Senate as it stands today. Friday's vote, of course, is not the end of the matter. Voters will need to consider whether they want to maintain the balance in the Senate as it is now. And Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver needs to reconsider his all-or-nothing position on a fuller package of women's bills.
- Assembly Dems’ women caucus says Women’s Equality Act is all or nothing
- Assembly Approves Women’s Agenda
- Women's Equality Act split into 10 bills
- WEA LTE: Women’s Equality Act: Clarity provision
- WEA LTE: Why I support NY Women’s Equality Agenda
- WEA LTE: Women’s Equality - "I encourage you to urge Senator Skelos and Senator Klein to bring the bill to the floor for a full debate and fair vote. It is astounding to think that in the 21st Century two white, privileged men get to block progress for 10 million NYS Women, isn’t it?"
- Keep the Women’s Rights Bill Intact
- New District Polling shows New Yorkers, by a margin of 3-1, are less likely to vote for Senators who vote NO on Women’s Equality Act
- WEA LTE: Cuomo, Russell strong advocates for women, says St. Lawrence County Legislator from Norfolk
- Women’s groups set to launch advertising blitz
- Women's coalition urges Klein to 'play hardball' to get Equality Act to Senate floor
- Gov. Cuomo Rolls Out D.C. Support For His 10-Point Women's Equality Agenda
- AAUW in the News: Paycheck Fairness Not Just "Women's Issue" (June 7, 2013)
- AAUW in the News: North country well represented at NY4Women Rally (June 7, 2013)
- AAUW in the News: Assemblywomen Russell, Duprey speak on Women's Equality Agenda while hundreds listen at rally (June 6, 2013)
- OpEd: Women’s rights (June 6, 2013)
- LET: Truly supporting women’s rights (June 3, 2013)
- Women's Equality Act backers rally
- Addie Russell promoting Women’s Equality Act
- AAUW in the News - Letter to the Editor: Women’s Equality
- NARAL’s Miller: Laser Focus On Women’s Agenda - NARAL Pro-Choice New York President Andrea Miller said her group and others in a coalition have a “laser focus” on achieving the full passage of the women’s agenda despite deep-seated opposition in the state Senate.
- Independent Democratic Conference to promote its own women's rights agenda
- Faith leaders apply pressure for 10-point Women's Equality Agenda
- NY Gov. Cuomo continues push for women's rights agenda
- AAUW in the News: AAUW Plans Women's Equality Agenda Event (April 3, 2013)
- Women’s Equality (April 2, 2013)
- STATE SPOTLIGHT: AAUW OF NEW YORK IN ACTION! New Women's Coalition Backs Cuomo's Women's Equality Agenda - Earlier this month, more than 500 advocacy groups, including AAUW of New York State, launched the New York Women's Equality Coalition to encourage support for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 10-point agenda for gender equality. The governor's agenda aims to achieve pay equity, protect reproductive rights, and reduce discrimination in the home and workplace and under the law.
- AAUW in the News: AAUW on Women’s Equality Agenda (March 7, 2013)
- AAUW in the News: North Country groups join New York Women’s Equality Coalition to advance governor’s women’s agenda (March 5, 2013)
- North Country Matters: The 10-Point NYS Women’s Equality Agenda: At a time when many state legislatures and governors are moving backwards on equality for women, New York is taking an aggressive and proactive leadership role on women’s issues. Addie Russell, the Chair of the Assembly's Task Force on Women's Issues, discusses the Agenda.
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1. Achieve Pay Equity:
Women in New York earn 84% of what men earn. This wage gap is even more severe for African-American and Hispanic Women, who earn 66% and 55% of that earned by non-Hispanic men in New York State, respectively. This amendment to the current law would ensure that women receive the wages they were always entitled to, as well as provide for an additional amount of liquidated damages equal to 300% of the back wages due. This new law would also tighten current exceptions so that pay differentials are only allowed when the employer can show that the differential is based on something other than sex and is related to Job performance. Additionally, the proposal will prohibit employers from terminating or retaliating against employees who share wage information, a practice that enables wage disparities to persist undetected.
Why New York State women need the groundbreaking Women’s Equality Agenda, a ten point plan which addresses pay equity, protects domestic violence victims, and makes sure women are protected from harassment and discrimination in housing, lending and employment.
- Women earn between 55 and 80 cents for every dollar a man earns.
- Women working for small employers can not file a lawsuit to stop sexual harassment.
- Women with children are less likely to be recommended for hire and promoted and in most cases earn less than similarly situated men.
- Employers in New York are not required to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant women at work…things as small as a stool to sit on.
- Victims of domestic violence must testify in person against their attackers in order to get orders of protection, which can be intimidating and unsafe.
- And New York’s abortion law fails to provide the protections guaranteed in Roe v. Wade and is out of sync with current medical practice.
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2. Stop Sexual Harassment in All Workplaces:
Three quarters of the sexual harassment complaints filed in this State are filed by women. This amendment to the current law would protect workers from sexual and other forms of harassment regardless of the size of the workplace. Under the newlaw, an employee of any business, large or small, may file a complaint for sexual harassment.
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3. Allow for the Recovery of Attorneys' Fees in Employment and Credit and Lending Cases:
Over 75% of the employment and credit and lending cases in this State are filed by women. The current law states that an individual cannot recover attorneys' fees for employment and credit and lending discrimination cases even after proving discrimination at trial. As a result (a) many who are discriminated against never seek redress; (b) those who hire an attorney on a contingency fee arrangement are not "made whole" for their losses because they must pay for their attorneys out of their recovery; and (c) some who cannot afford to hire an attorney, but who try to do so on a contingency basis, are unsuccessful because the case is either too small or too risky. This plan would amend the law to Include a provision for reasonable attorneys' fees for successful litigants, and ensure that victims of employment and credit and lending discrimination - most of whom are women - have an opportunity to vindicate their rights.
- Bill Moyers: The Hypocrisy of 'Justice for All - Of the $100 billion spent annually on criminal justice in this country, only two to three percent goes to defend the poor. Of 97 countries, we rank 68th in access to and affordability of civil legal service.
- Right to a Lawyer Can Be an Empty Promise for the Poor - Fifty years ago, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that those accused of a crime have a constitutional right to a lawyer whether or not they can afford one, but a new study calculates that 80 percent of the legal needs of the poor go unmet.
- 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright shows need for better public defense - Monday marked the 50th anniversary of the landmark Gideon v. Wainwright case that resulted in a 1963 Supreme Court ruling mandating states provide lawyers for poor defendants facing criminal charges and legal advocates and legislators spoke at a press conference in Albany calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to "lead a reform effort that will establish a fair, efficient and just public defense system."
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4. Strengthen Human Trafficking Laws:
Human trafficking is a crime that exploits vulnerable individuals through force, fraud or coercion. The victims of sex trafficking are almost always women. The plan strengthens the existing law to remove the requirements that "coercion" be proven when the victims are minors, increase penalties for trafficking and create an affirmative defense in prostitution prosecutions mat the defendants participation was a result of having been a sex trafficking victim.
- Lawmakers hope to reduce human trafficking
- Joining forces to stop North Country human trafficking
- Proposed law would strengthen human trafficking punishments
- Big business fights human trafficking - Once almost exclusively a problem tackled by governments and do-gooder organizations, corporations are beginning to take an active role in combating human trafficking and unfair labor practices.
- Fighting sex trafficking in New York state — Forcing young women and men into a life of prostitution is a very lucrative business.
- SUNY Canton students protest human trafficking
- SUNY Canton students organize events to raise awareness of human trafficking
- Human trafficking ring busted in Orange County
- State Department of Labor Announces Program Partnering With Businesses to Identify and Stop Human Trafficking
- The 21st-Century Version of Slavery Is Widespread In America - The abuses of the H-2B visa program are mind-boggling.
- Sex Worker Breaks Legs and Back Escaping Enslavement
- North Country Matters: The Human Wrong Campaign (March 7, 2013)
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5. End Family Status Discrimination:
Women with children are less likely to be recommended for hire and promoted, and, in most cases,, are offered less in salary than similarly situated men. This proposal would amend the current law to prohibit employers from denying work or promotion to workers simply because they have children.
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6. Stop Source-of-Income Discrimination:
Many households suffer discrimination by landlords who are unwilling to rent to voucher holders. Female-headed households account for 76% of all housing choice vouchers issued, including section 8 vouchers. This amendment to the Human Rights Law will prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenants based on lawful sources of income.
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7. Stop Housing Discrimination for Victims of Domestic Violence:
Discrimination against victims of domestic violence is almost always discrimination against women - 85% of domestic violence victims are women. Under current state law, victims of domestic violence have no protection from discrimination in housing, meaning landlords can evict victims of domestic violence under zero-tolerance policies. This amendment to the Human Rights Law would protect victims of domestic violence from discrimination when they attempt to purchase, rent, or lease housing. In addition, the new law would prohibit landlords from inquiring about domestic violence victim status, as well as create an eviction defense in housing court requiring judges to consider facts related to domestic violence in their decision-making.
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8. Stop Pregnancy Discrimination Once and For All:
In order to adequately protect the rights of pregnant workers, it is necessary to create a specific protection in the Human Rights Law requiring employers to provide a reasonable accommodation for pregnancy-related conditions. Once amended, New York State law will serve as a model for all other states in the nation seeking to protect pregnant women from discrimination in the workplace.
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9. Protect Victims of Domestic Violence by Strengthening Order-of-Protection Laws:
Women face too many obstacles in securing protection from their abusers. Requiring victims of domestic violence victims seeking an order of protection to be in physical proximately to their abuser in court may be traumatic, unsafe, intimidating, and may ultimately influence testimony. This amendment will ensure that victims of domestic violence will be allowed to provide all required testimony by video-conference.
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10. Protect Reproductive Health Decisions:
New York was a national leader protecting choice three years before the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Now, our laws are out of sync with federal protections. Governor Cuomo proposes to align New York law with federal law and current practice in New York by regulating abortion in the Public Health Law, where other medical procedures are regulated; ensuring that a woman’s health is front and center in every decision that a health care professional makes, as recognized by federal law; and clarifying that New York already regulates health care professionals and creates standards for what those medical professionals can and cannot do.
- Changes to N.Y. Abortion Laws Needed To Ensure Women's Safety, Ob-Gyn Argues in Opinion Piece
- Overwhelming Support for Gov’s Reproductive Health Act; Two-thirds Call Themselves Pro-Choice - “By an overwhelming 80-16 percent margin, voters support the Governor’s reproductive health act, ‘aimed at protecting reproductive freedom for women, ensuring a woman’s right to make private health care decisions regarding pregnancy.’ At least two-thirds of voters from every party, region and demographic group support it, with the exception of self-identified conservatives who support it 64-29 percent,” Greenberg said. “When asked to describe themselves as generally ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice’ on the issue of abortion, 66 percent of New York voters describe themselves as pro-choice – including more than two-thirds of Democrats and independents and a majority of Republicans – compared to 27 percent who describe themselves as pro-life.”
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