Assemblymember McMahon: New Yorkers Should Never Feel Targeted in School or in the Workplace

Assemblymember Karen McMahon (D-Amherst/Pendleton) announced that she helped pass a series of anti-discrimination bills to protect New Yorkers from unfair and abusive treatment at school and at work.

“New Yorkers always deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” said McMahon. “This package takes a major step in creating a safer work environment for all. Whether you’re a student in school or a new parent going back to work, you shouldn’t be confronted with ignorance and hate.”

The Assembly legislation includes a measure that would expand the sexual harassment laws passed as part of last year’s state budget to crack down on all forms of discrimination and harassment in the workplace (A.5976). The legislation clarifies that all employers are subject to state anti-discrimination laws and establishes a model policy and training program to prevent discrimination. To increase accountability in these cases, the bill also prohibits mandatory arbitration clauses related to workplace discrimination. It would also require a public employee to reimburse a public entity within 90 days if the entity is awarding a discrimination claim to a victim, ensuring the perpetrator is the one held financially responsible. In addition, the bill expands discrimination protections to include non-employees, such as contractors, and requires companies involved in a competitive public bidding process to have a written policy on discrimination prevention.

The legislative package also includes measures to accommodate breastfeeding mothers at work (A.5975) and protect workers’ religious freedoms by prohibiting employers from discriminating based on religious attire, including facial hair (A.4204). Every American is guaranteed the right to practice their religion freely, and an employer has no right to come between an employee and their faith, noted McMahon.

McMahon also helped pass a bill to protect students by extending the anti-discrimination protections under the state’s Human Rights Law to all public schools (A.3425). Currently, the Human Rights Law affirms students’ right to obtain an education free from discrimination and harassment but a decision by the New York State Court of Appeals in 2012 determined that these protections may only be enforced in private schools.[1] This measure would extend the Human Rights Law to students of public schools, BOCES and public colleges and universities.

Earlier this week, McMahon also supported the Equal Rights Amendment to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender (A.271). McMahon remains committed to upholding New York’s longstanding tradition of equality and inclusivity for everyone.