NYS's Women's Equality Agenda

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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

Index:

  1. Achieve Pay Equity
  2. Stop Sexual Harassment in All Workplaces
  3. Allow for the Recovery of Attorneys' Fees in Employment and Credit and Lending Cases
  4. Strengthen Human Trafficking Laws
  5. End Family Status Discrimination
  6. Stop Source-of-Income Discrimination
  7. Stop Housing Discrimination for Victims of Domestic Violence
  8. Stop Pregnancy Discrimination Once and For All
  9. Protect Victims of Domestic Violence by Strengthening Order-of-Protection Laws
  10. Protect Reproductive Health Decisions


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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.


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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.

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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.