Recent Changes in the Law

Recent Changes in the Law



In connection with Veterans Day, the New York State Legislature passed, and the Governor signed into law, two new laws that afford greater protections to military and naval veterans. We are writing to advise you about these new laws, as well as another new law that may impact your workforce.

The Legislature has expanded the scope of protections afforded to individuals who have previously served in various branches of the military, but who may not have been honorably discharged from their military commission. Executive Law § 350 was amended to add two new definitions, one for a “qualifying condition” and one defining a “discharged LGBT veteran.” The legislation’s purpose was to ensure that certain veterans who were discharged enjoy the same rights and benefits as those who were honorably discharged or released from military service.

A “qualifying condition” is one involving a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury and occasioned by an experience of military sexual trauma. To constitute a “qualifying condition,” the diagnosis must be disclosed to a health care provider at a United States Department of Veterans Affairs facility.

An “LGBT veteran” is a veteran who was not honorably discharged from the military or naval service due to his/her sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, consensual sexual conduct or consensual acts relating to sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or the disclosures of such statements, conduct or acts that were prohibited by the military or naval service at the time of the discharge.

The bill amends numerous related provisions of the Civil Service Law, the County Law, the Economic Development Law, the Education Law, the Election Law, the General Construction Law, the General Municipal Law, the Military Law, the Correction Law, the Environmental Conservation Law, the General Business Law, the Highway Law, the Insurance Law, the Judiciary Law, the Private Housing Finance Law, the Public Health Law, the Public Housing Law, the Public Officers Law, the Real Property Tax Law, the Social Services Law, the Tax Law, the Town Law, the Vehicle and Traffic Law and the Workers’ Compensation Law. In each instance, all laws were amended to ensure that any protection previously afforded only to honorably discharged veterans are extended to those veterans with a “qualifying condition” or an “LGBT veteran.” For example, Civil Service Law Section 75 will apply to “LGBT veterans” and those with a “qualifying condition.”

The new provisions of law will become effective on November 12, 2020.

In addition, Military Law § 242 was also amended to add a subsection 5(c) that permits a municipal employer, in its sole discretion, to adopt a resolution or local law providing for the payment of salary or other compensation, for up to five working days in any calendar year, while the employee utilizes healthcare related services related to his/her prior service in a combat theater or combat zone of operations. Any resolution or local law must apply to both combat theater veterans and combat zone of operations veterans. This provision takes effect on March 11, 2020.

Finally, the Legislature also passed, and the Governor signed into law, a new provision of the Labor Law designed to ensure that employees enjoy protections over their, and their dependents’, reproductive health decision-making. New Labor Law § 203-e now prohibits employers from engaging in discriminatory or retaliatory personnel actions against an employee because of the employee or an employee’s dependent’s reproductive health decision-making (e.g., to have an abortion). Employers are also prohibited from accessing personal information related to an employee or an employee’s dependent’s reproductive health decision-making. Employees may commence a civil action to enforce this provision and, if successful, would be entitled to injunctive relief, compensatory damages, attorneys’ fees and liquidated damages. Employers providing a handbook to employees must include a provision in that handbook (or prepare an addendum to the handbook) including notice of employee rights and the available remedies pursuant to this new section of the Labor Law. This change is immediately effective.

If you have any questions regarding these new State laws, please contact Matthew J. Mehnert or one of our other attorneys by calling 631-694-2300.


© Lamb & Barnosky, LLP 2019