Legal Analysts

Showing posts with label Equality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Equality. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Empowering Pregnant Workers: Inside the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The Federal Government recently passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which significantly strengthens protections for pregnant workers and enhances the process for addressing discrimination claims related to pregnancy and related medical conditions in several ways including:

  • Clear Prohibitions: The PWFA explicitly prohibits discrimination against pregnant employees, including adverse actions, denial of employment opportunities, and coercion. This clarity empowers pregnant workers to assert their rights without fear of retaliation.
  • Mandatory Reasonable Accommodations: Covered entities are required to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees unless it causes undue hardship. This ensures that pregnant workers can continue working without facing unnecessary barriers due to their pregnancy or related medical conditions.
  • Interactive Process Requirement: The Act mandates an interactive process between employers and employees to determine appropriate accommodations. This process promotes transparency and collaboration, ensuring that accommodations are tailored to meet the specific needs of pregnant workers.
  • Expansive Definitions: The PWFA provides comprehensive definitions of terms such as "known limitation" and "related medical conditions," broadening the scope of protections for pregnant workers. This clarity reduces ambiguity and strengthens the basis for discrimination claims.
  • Limits on Supporting Documentation: The Act imposes limits on the type of supporting documentation employers can request from pregnant employees seeking accommodations. This prevents employers from creating unnecessary barriers or burdens for pregnant workers seeking to exercise their rights.

Additionally, under the PWFA, delays in providing accommodations may lead to violations and failure-to-accommodate lawsuits. Employers are obliged to provide accommodations unless the pregnancy prevents an essential job function.

Covered Entities cannot force leave if other accommodations are feasible, and it bars adverse action against employees for requesting or using reasonable accommodations. 

Finally, the PWFA outlines remedies and enforcement procedures, including provisions for damages, costs, and attorneys' fees. Notably, it prohibits retaliation or coercion against employees exercising their rights under the PWFA. These regulations enhance protections for discrimination claims related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions in the workplace.

The PWFA will go into effect on June 18, 2024. If you'd like to learn more about the PWFA, click here

Friday, January 12, 2024

Understanding the Justice Department's Proposed Rule on Accessible Medical Diagnostic Equipment for Disability Non-Discrimination

On 1/12/24, the Justice Department announced a proposed rule revision under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), targeting the accessibility of Medical Diagnostic Equipment (MDE) in state and local government entities. This move is a significant step towards ensuring that medical diagnostic equipment is accessible to all, regardless of disability. 

The rule, proposed by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, seeks to amend title II of the ADA regulations. The primary goal is to establish explicit requirements, including technical standards, for accessible MDE provided by state and local governments. 

Key Provisions:

  • Adoption of Standards: The rule proposes adopting standards set by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board for MDE.
  • Scoping Requirements: Specifics on the amount and type of accessible MDE required.
  • Deadline for Comments: Stakeholders can submit comments until February 12, 2024, primarily through the electronic Federal Docket Management System.

Impact on Medical Services: The lack of accessible MDE has been a barrier for people with disabilities, often leading to compromised health care. For instance, patients with disabilities have faced challenges in accessing routine examinations like mammograms and Pap smears due to inaccessibility. This rule aims to rectify such disparities.

Public Participation: The Justice Department encourages public involvement in the rulemaking process. Comments can be submitted electronically or via mail. It's an opportunity for healthcare providers, individuals with disabilities, and other stakeholders to voice their opinions and concerns.

Implications for State and Local Governments: Entities offering medical services will need to align with these standards, ensuring that their MDE is accessible. This might involve acquiring new equipment or modifying existing setups.

Economic and Environmental Considerations: The Department invites comments on potential economic and environmental impacts of the rule. This consideration is crucial for balanced and sustainable implementation.

Friday, December 01, 2023

Equality in Health Law: NYS Bill for LGBTQ+ & HIV Protection Against Discrimination

On November 30, 2023, Governor Hochul signed A0372A establishing a new section of the Public Health Law, Section 2803-c-2. 

This new addition to the Public Health Law combined with Executive Law 296 creates express discriminatory events that are actionable. 

The new Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and People Living with HIV Long Term Care Bill of Rights provides that it is unlawful for a long-term care facility or facility staff member to discriminate against any resident on the basis of such resident's actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status. 

Under this new addition facilities are required to post notices about their nondiscrimination policies with information about reporting violations, employ procedures for recordkeeping purposes that include residents' gender identity, correct name as indicated by the resident, preferred pronoun as indicated by the resident, protect personally identifiable information regarding residents' sexual orientation and more. 

Facilities are also now required to ensure that facility staff that are not involved in providing direct care to residents are not present during physical examinations or the provision of personal care without the express permission of the resident or the resident's legally authorized representative and ensure that at least once every two years, each facility staff member who works directly with residents receives training on cultural competency focusing on patients who identify as LGBT and/or HIV.

If a facility  discriminates against an individual protected by Section 2803-c-2, that discriminatory conduct may be actionable under the New York State Human Rights Law. 


Monday, November 20, 2023

Protecting Survivors: NYS Bill Prohibits Financial Penalties in Nondisclosure Agreements

On November 17, 2023, Governor Hochul signed Bill A00581, amending NYS' General Obligations Law to prohibit settlements, or other resolution, of sexual harassment claims or any other form of unlawful discrimination from including any term or condition that requires the survivor to pay the defendant liquidated damages if the complainant violates a non-disclosure agreement.

Survivors of sexual harassment and discrimination are often required to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDA) as a condition for receiving compensation for their horror. NDAs frequently include provisions requiring survivors to pay liquidated damages (predetermined damages) if they violate the agreement and these damages can be devastating. 

As a result, survivors, who later change their minds or those who were coerced into signing an NDA, face financial hardships for speaking out about their experience. This new law will protect survivors by no longer allowing financial penalties against them for sharing their stories about experiencing harassment and discrimination.

This Bill takes effect immediately and will apply to agreements entered on or after its effectiveness Agreements can no longer require the survivor to forfeit part or all of the consideration for violating an NDA. Additionally, defendants can no longer require survivors to sign an affirmative statement, assertion, or disclaimer stating that they were not subject to discrimination or retaliation.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Understanding NY's New Legislation: More Time to File Discrimination Claims

New York State Assembly Bill A00501 represents a pivotal change in the state's approach to handling discrimination cases. Historically, the timeframe for raising claims under the New York State Human Rights Law was restricted - only 90 days for court proceedings against the government and a maximum of one year for bringing issues to the Division of Human Rights, with the sole exception of sexual harassment cases. The introduction of this bill, however, marks a significant shift, extending the statute of limitations to three years across the board for filings with the Division of Human Rights for claims against both private and public entities. This is biggest for education discrimination lawsuits that often were capped at a one year lookback period. 

Increased Access to Justice: The extension from one year to three years dramatically broadens the opportunity for individuals who have experienced discrimination to seek legal redress against the government. This is particularly crucial in cases where the complexity of the situation or the victims' circumstances might delay the decision to pursue legal action.

Benefit to School Discrimination Cases: The most notable impacts of this bill will be in the context of school systems. Previously, students or parents alleging discrimination had a mere year to initiate legal action. The extension to three years provides a more reasonable timeframe to prepare and pursue these important cases.

Click here to read Bill A00501.