August 26, 2022
Albany, NY

On Women's Equality Day, Governor Hochul Announces State Actions to Combat Sex Discrimination

On Women's Equality Day, Governor Hochul Announces State Actions to Combat Sex Discrimination

New York State Division of Human Rights Awards $2.3 Million to Women Who Were Victims of Sex Discrimination by Employers, Landlords and Businesses

New Guidance and Fact Sheet on Protections for Pregnant Workers in the Workplace

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Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the New York State Division of Human Rights has awarded more than $2.3 million in the past year to 126 women who filed sex discrimination claims against employers, landlords, and businesses across the state. In addition, the Division has published new guidance on workplace protections against pregnancy discrimination. Governor Hochul announced these actions as the State commemorates Women's Equality Day, which marks 102 years since women in the United States gained the right to vote.

"There's no place for unlawful discrimination or harassment of any form — in the workplace or anywhere else," Governor Hochul said. "We've come a long way in changing workplace culture in government, and as we celebrate Women's Equality Day across the state, we are sending a message that whether in a private setting or in a public sector office, sexual harassment is not okay. In New York State, we are committed to promoting safety, dignity, and respect for everyone."

Sex discrimination has been unlawful in New York State since 1964, and every year since, the Division has worked to protect the rights of women to participate fully in the life of the State. In addition to obtaining those settlements since Governor Hochul took office in August 2021, the Division has published new guidance on pregnancy protections, as well as a factsheet that will alert employees of their rights and employers of their responsibilities around reasonable accommodation of pregnant workers.

Division of Human Rights Commissioner Maria L. Imperial said, "Governor Kathy Hochul has made eliminating sex discrimination in New York State a priority and we are proud to further this endeavor. Women's rights are human rights. It's vital that we use every tool at our disposal to ensure equity for all."

Notable Resolutions

Two female security officers received settlements of $50,000 and $30,000 each after filing DHR complaints against their employers, alleging that they faced sex discrimination while working at a New York City hospital. The security officers alleged that they were assigned to less-desirable postings, denied equal opportunity for overtime, and denied breaks because their supervisors said female officers were "not equal to men." The officers also alleged that they experienced retaliation after filing internal complaints.

A woman who worked at a dental office in Lockport received a settlement of over $70,000 plus $17,000 in legal fees after filing a sexual harassment and disability discrimination complaint against her employer through DHR. The woman, who worked as a hygiene coordinator, alleged that she experienced continual sexual harassment from the dentist who co-owned the practice she worked at. The woman alleged she was terminated after going out on sick leave for three weeks due to what was later found to be a brain tumor.

A New York City woman who worked in the billing department of a retail distributor received a settlement of $75,000 after alleging in a DHR complaint against her employer that she faced racial and pregnancy discrimination. The woman alleged that she faced derogatory comments and harassment from her supervisor for being a single mother after becoming pregnant. She also alleged that her work duties were changed to become less favorable after she came back from maternity leave.

A Long Island woman received a settlement of $45,000 after alleging that she experienced racist and sexist abuse and harassment while working as an office manager at a construction company in Brookhaven. Despite working for the company productively for several years, she was terminated after going out on disability.

A Rochester woman who worked as a security officer at a local airport received a settlement of $47,000 after filing a DHR complaint against her employer alleging sex, disability, and pregnancy discrimination. The woman was penalized by her employer for taking time off during her pregnancy to deal with connected medical issues, and then terminated after seeking leave to deal with post-partum depression.

The Division's work builds on other recent measures taken by Governor Hochul to further equality in New York State. In July, she announced that the Division launched a statewide, toll-free hotline to connect workers with free guidance from pro-bono attorneys to help them deal with the complex issues of sexual harassment. In May, the Division filed a complaint against online retailer Amazon alleging the company engages in discrimination against pregnant workers and workers with disabilities and has policies that force pregnant and disabled workers to take an unpaid leave of absence rather than allowing them to work with a reasonable accommodation.

This past March, Governor Hochul signed legislation strengthening protections against retaliation for victims of discrimination and making explicit that all public employers are subject to the Human Rights Law. These and other recent amendments to the law have helped ensured that the New York State Human Rights Law remains one of the strongest in the nation, and the Division is committed to vigorous enforcement of these protections.

New York has the proud distinction of being the first state in the nation to enact a Human Rights Law, affording every citizen "an equal opportunity to enjoy a full and productive life." The New York State Division of Human Rights is dedicated to eliminating discrimination, remedying injustice, and promoting equal opportunity, access, and dignity through enforcement of the Human Rights Law. Individuals interested in finding out more information or filing a complaint may visit the Division's website. Follow the Division on Facebook and Twitter.

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640


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