A New York State law requires employers to update their employee handbooks by Jan. 7, 2020.
The law does not require employers to have handbooks. However, any employer that does have one must ensure that it contains notice regarding a new provision that was added to the state’s Labor Law in November 2019. Under that provision, all employers in the state are prohibited from (and may be sued for):
- Accessing personal information about employees’ (or their dependents’) reproductive health decisions without prior written consent;
- Discriminating or retaliating against an employee based on reproductive health decisions; and
- Requiring employees to waive any rights to make their own reproductive health decisions.
The law does not specify how the notice must be written. However, it does indicate that the notice must include information about both rights and remedies. Among other remedies, the law allows courts to award damages—including back pay, benefits, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs—plus double that amount as punitive damages against non-compliant employers.
All employers in New York should become familiar with the new law and ensure that any existing or new employee handbooks include information about it by Jan. 7, 2020.