Guidance for women and advocates in New York State.
Women continue to be undervalued and are regularly subjected to unfair treatment in the workplace. While women often accept these conditions as inevitable, it is important to remember that it doesn’t have to be this way. ALL women—regardless of economic situation or immigration status—have certain legal rights.
This Toolkit provides guidance to women and advocates in New York State on 13 core issues that relate to women’s economic equality, including ways to assert those rights. Download the full Toolkit here or see our Checklist below.
Note that this Toolkit is for informational purposes and is not intended to provide legal advice.
Table of Contents
Legal Checklist for Women’s Economic Equality
This Checklist provides a synopsis of the 13 rights, protections, and benefits covered in this Legal Toolkit. Some of these rights overlap—but the Toolkit is divided into 13 core areas for ease of reference.
1. Sex & Gender Discrimination
You have the right not to be discriminated against at work on the basis of your sex or gender. This right is fundamental and encompasses many of the specific protections below. The law also protects you based on your gender identity, sexual orientation, and familial status.
2. Sexual Harassment
You have the right to a workplace free of sexual harassment and abuse. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. All workers should be free to come forward to report abuse regardless of identity or immigration status.
3. Equal Pay
The law prohibits employers from paying you less because of your sex or gender. This type of treatment is a form of sex discrimination. Your employer is also prohibited from punishing you for discussing or disclosing rates of pay with your colleagues, and, depending on where you work, an employer may be prohibited from asking about or relying on your prior salary to set your new salary.
4. Minimum Wage & Fair Wage Practices
You have the right to be paid for your work. It is illegal for your employer to steal your wages, pay you below the state minimum wage, or force you to work for no wages.
5. Economic Opportunity
It is unlawful for a lender or financial institution to deny you a loan or financing based on your sex or gender. Resources are available to help you find a job; improve your finances; start a business; and obtain education, language, and skills trainings to get a job, including jobs in higher paying fields
6. A Safe Workplace & Fair Working Conditions
You have the right to a safe workplace free from hazards that could cause you serious harm and free from coercive working conditions. Depending on your circumstances, you may also be entitled to certain fair work practices such as breaks, days of rest, sick time, leave, and fair scheduling.
7. Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault & Stalking
It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against you in the workplace based on your status as a victim of domestic violence. Depending on where you live, additional protections may exist, including protections for victims of sexual assault or stalking, that can help you keep or leave your job while addressing the abuse.
8. Reproductive & Maternal Health
You have the right to a safe and confidential abortion until your 24th week of pregnancy or at any point medically necessary to protect your life or health. If you receive Medicaid or have health insurance, your provider must cover critical family planning services, including contraception and abortion services at no additional cost.
9. Pregnancy, Childbirth & Breastfeeding
It is unlawful for an employer to treat you less favorably in the workplace on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. This type of treatment is a form of sex discrimination. An employer is also prohibited from discriminating against workers for pumping breast milk at work and you have the right to take breaks to do so. Depending on your situation, you may have the right to additional workplace protections to adjust your working conditions or to take paid or unpaid leave if needed.
10. Paid Family Leave
If you have worked enough days and hours, you have the right to paid, job-protected leave to care for a newborn, a newly adopted child, or a sick family member, or to address certain family needs that result from military deployment. You may also have the right to other forms of leave to assist you with caring for yourself and your family.
11. Child Care Assistance & Protections for Caregivers
It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against you because you have children. Based on your income, you may be eligible for child care assistance to help you get or keep a job.
12. Public Benefits
Based on your income, you may be eligible for critical public benefits, including cash assistance, food assistance, free healthcare, and housing assistance. If your benefits are denied or terminated, you must be informed in advance and have an opportunity to contest the determination. if you do not speak English and need assistance, you can request language assistance (translation and interpretation).
13. Protecting Our Rights Together
You may have certain rights and opportunities to organize, join a union, and take action with other workers to improve your pay and working conditions without being punished by your employer.
A list of additional resources to help you: find out if you have certain rights, determine if your rights have been violated, figure out how to assert your rights, or decide if you need legal representation.