All posts by Linda Chiaverini

WBASNY Supports the Equal Rights Amendment Concurrent Proposal, Elimination of the “Pink Tax” and Paid Sick Leave

March 6, 2020, New York, NY

The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (“WBASNY”) supports the following proposals included in the Governor’s FY 2021 budget:

• Equal Rights Amendment Concurrent Resolution,
• Elimination of gender pricing discrimination (“the Pink Tax” – Part S of A.9508-A / S.7508-A); and
• Guaranteed Paid Sick Leave (Part J of A.9506-A / S.7506-A)

Passage of the Equal Rights Amendment

WBASNY has long been an ardent supporter of amending the New York State Constitution to include sex as a protected class in the New York ERA. WBASNY is pleased that in addition to sex this Constitutional amendment would also include other characteristics already recognized under the New York Human Rights Law as protected classes, namely: ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression. WBASNY applauds this long overdue amendment which will solidify equality under New York Law in a more permanent and enduring way. Its passage will ensure that all citizens of the Empire State are treated equally regardless of what gender they identify with. WBASNY believes this amendment will help achieve inter alia equal pay based on ability.

Elimination of the Pink Tax

WBASNY supports the proposed amendment to Section 390-d of the New York General Business Law prohibiting the sale or offer for sale of any two consumer products or services that are substantially similar but priced differently based on the gender of the person for whom the products and services are marketed and intended. This amendment will eliminate an historic disparity between products and services that are intended for women and higher priced than substantially similar products and services offered to men. The amendment is not unduly burdensome to businesses in that it permits consumer products and services price differences based upon the time, difficulty or cost incurred in manufacturing the product or offering the service. Given that higher consumer costs to women widen the gender wage gap over time, this legislation furthers WBASNY’s mission of promoting gender pay equality and the economic advancement of women.

Eliminating the Pink Tax will ensure that similar products like razors are similarly priced. A pink razor should not cost more than a blue razor as they presently do. WBASNY supports passage of this legislation to eliminate what has effectively become a “commercial” tax on women.

Guaranteed Sick Leave

WBASNY supports the addition of Section 196-b to the New York State Labor Law providing job protected sick leave for New Yorkers, thereby creating a healthier work environment and allowing protected time off to seek medical care and/or recuperate from illness. Moreover, the proposal does not impose undue hardship on employers since it takes into account the size of the employer in determining the number of sick days required to be offered and whether sick leave is to be paid or unpaid. Under the proposed law, employers must provide a minimum number of sick days each calendar year as follows: employers with four or less employees must provide five days of unpaid sick leave; employers with five to ninety-nine employees must provide five days of paid sick leave; and employers with one hundred or more employees must provide seven days of paid sick leave. WBASNY supports the proposed legislation as needed protections for vulnerable, disempowered workers who are without leverage to negotiate for these minimal standards of employment.

WBASNY is dedicated to erasing gender discrimination and applauds the Governor’s continued efforts to eliminate gender bias in all aspects of the lives of the citizens of New York.

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The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (“WBASNY”) is dedicated to advocating for the protection of women’s and children’s rights and advancing the status of women in the legal profession and society. Our nearly 4,300 members include attorneys, judges, and law students working in all substantive areas of law at the local, state, federal, and international levels. With 20 chapters throughout New York State, WBASNY speaks as one voice to advocate for equal access to justice and gender equality. WBASNY is a non-governmental organization in association with the UN Department of Public Information and holds Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council, thus allowing WBASNY to substantially participate in work to support and advocate for the rights of women and children worldwide.

2019 – S.3249 /A.271

Position Statement -2019

S.3249 (Salazar) /A.271 (Seawright)

Support

The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY) supports an amendment to Section 11 of Article 1 of the New York State Constitution in relation to equal rights for women by adding sex as a protected class. Currently, the New York State Constitution fails to provide equal protections against discrimination on the basis of sex.  This omission in our state’s constitution must be rectified.

The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution does not go far enough to protect against discrimination based on gender, nor does the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The 14th Amendment has never been interpreted by the courts to grant equal rights on the basis of gender in the uniform and inclusive way that a more broadly defined Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in our State Constitution would.

An ERA would work to prevent the diminishment of women’s rights in domestic violence, health, education and employment, regardless of what occurs at the federal level. It would clarify the legal status of sex discrimination for state courts and make it consistent with the laws against discrimination based on race, color, creed or religion.

It is well settled that American women working full time are generally paid less than males working at the same job. Currently, women earn less than men in almost all of the common occupations for women, and women are twice as likely as men to work in occupations with wages at or close to poverty level. An ERA could help balance the scales, with respect to equal pay.

WBASNY consists of over 4,200 members from twenty (20) chapters across New York State dedicated to promoting the advancement of the status of women in society and of women in the legal profession, and to the fair and equal administration of justice. Our members include individuals from all levels of state and federal benches, as well as prominent attorneys practicing in all areas of the law, educators and government leaders.