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Eight women’s equality bills pass Senate; on to the Assembly

Author: Renee Cerullo/Friday, January 16, 2015

NYSW Members advocate for legislation that advances the principles set out in our legislative platform through a variety of means. Lobbying both in person and by letter our elected officials at the state and national level on behalf of bills that advance our legislative priorities, having speakers and programs at our meetings that explain the legislation, and working on behalf of the campaigns of those candidates for office who support our legislative platform are some of the ways we endeavor to have passed into law legislation that advances the causes in which we believe.

The Women’s Equality Act, first introduced in the New York State Legislature in 2013, has several provisions, all of which are in keeping with our legislative platform and advocacy statement, in that they would redress the injustices, inequities and discrimination that women face throughout their lives. For more information, see:


In 2013 and 2014, the Women’s Equality Act passed in the New York State Assembly, but did not pass in the State Senate because many of the Senators do not support one of the provisions in the complete act. The State Senate has broken down the WEA into segments, and passed most of them, but not all. In order to become law, the same version of a bill must be passed by both the State Assembly and State Senate.

During the week of January 12, 2015, the State Senate has passed once again several separate bills that comprised parts of the Women’s Equality Act, for example the first bill to pass the NYS Senate this year was Senator Diane Savino’s bill prohibiting gender discrimination in wages, Bill S.1 for 2015. The eight bills would stop human trafficking; ensure equal pay for equal work; combat sexual harassment in the workplace; end gender discrimination in employment, housing and credit decisions; make reasonable work accommodations available for pregnant women; and provide stronger protections for domestic violence victims. For more information see: http://www.nysenate.gov/press-release/senate-passes-women-s-equality-package-including-lanzas-bill-combat-human-trafficking

Some have opposed breaking up the Women’s Equality Act into individual bills; their reasoning is that women deserve to have all the rights provided by the complete bill, and that passing some of the components without the others makes it less likely that all will pass. The reality is that there are even less votes in the newly elected Senate for the complete bill than in the Senate that failed to pass the complete bill in 2013 and 2014. Some of the components, for example against human trafficking, are needed desperately to protect women and children. It makes sense to get what we can, if the alternative is to get nothing.

It is important to inform our elected officials in the State Senate and Assembly that we want them to pass this legislation. We can call their offices, write them letters, send messages on their websites. If possible, visit them in their district offices to speak about this legislation. Last year, I asked one of the Assembly members from my area, what can we do to get this legislation passed? He told me, convince the women’s organizations to support passing the bill as individual components, rather than as one bill. When our voices are combined with those of women from other organizations from all over the state, we can make a powerful force. I think we should advocate for passing the bills individually: the ball is now in the court of the State Assembly. Contact members of the Assembly, and urge them to pass the individual bills that have been passed by the State Senate! We might not get all of the provisions passed at this time, but we can work on what remains in the future, after we have elected more members to the State Senate who would support our legislation.

To find the contact information for the members of the State Assembly from your area, go to this New York State Assembly webpage:


Sample letter:

Dear Assemblyman/woman_______________:

I am writing to urge you to support the passage in the Assembly of the bills comprising of the Women’s Equality Agenda that were passed by the New York State Senate in January, 2015. The bills are:

The Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (S.7), (S.1) that bans gender discrimination in pay, (S.4) bans discrimination based on family status, including in employment, (S.8) bans pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, (S.5) bans discrimination against domestic violence victims, (S.2d) protects workers from sexual harassment regardless of the size of the workplace, (S.3) allows for reasonable attorney’s fees in employments and credit discrimination cases when sex is a basis of discrimination, (S.6) would allow victims of domestic violence to file for orders of protection electronically.

Passing this legislation will provide the women of the State of New York with protection from discrimination, inequities and injustice.



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