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NY governor signs new laws to fight gender discrimination

by Assoicated Press
October 24, 2015

By DAVID KLEPPER
Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) Stronger laws on sexual harassment, domestic violence, sex trafficking, pay equity and pregnancy discrimination are now on the books in New York.

The bills, which were signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, are part of a legislative package known in Albany as the women’s equality agenda that passed earlier this year after a three-year stalemate related to abortion.

They include provisions expanding the state’s prohibition on sexual harassment to some previously exempt small businesses; banning discrimination against employees with children; protecting domestic violence victims from housing discrimination; and requiring companies to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers.

Another new law increases penalties for sex trafficking and makes it easier for victims to get help.

“This is the right thing to do because this says what New York always says: We are all equal,’’ said Cuomo, a Democrat. “...It’s the right thing to do for my three daughters who are second to no one on the basis of their gender. And it’s the right thing to do to every woman and daughter and aunt and sister who’s been dealt an inferior set of cards just by their gender.’’

An abortion bill, which would codify federal abortion rights in New York law, was removed from the women’s equality agenda after the Senate’s Republican leaders objected to its inclusion and Assembly Democrats dropped their longtime refusal to break up the package to allow separate votes.

Supporters of that bill - including Cuomo - said they would continue to push for its passage.

“This is a moment to celebrate, but it is a first step, not a final destination,’’ said Lauren Tobias, president and CEO of Family Planning Advocates of New York State and Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York. “There were important aspects of the package left undone.’’

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