Governor Signs ‘Boss Law’; Pro-Life Challenge Begins

On November 8, 2019, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Boss Bill (Bill S.660 – Metzger/A.584 – Jaffee) into law as Chapter 457 of the Laws of 2019.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms fought against the passage of the Boss Law for several years because of its callous disregard for religious liberty. The Boss Law:

  • Bars employers from “accessing an employee’s personal information regarding the employee’s or the employee’s dependent’s reproductive health decision making”; 
  • Bans employment discrimination based on “reproductive health decision making, including, but not limited to, a decision to use or access a particular drug, device or medical service”;
  • Forbids employers from requiring employees to sign a “waiver or other document which purports to deny an employee the right to make their own reproductive health care decisions”; and
  • Requires employers with employee handbooks to include information on the Boss Bill within said handbooks.

Significantly, nothing in the Boss Law exempts pro-life organizations or Christian charities from its provisions. Under the Boss Law, a Christian charity could be sued for discrimination if it disciplined a male employee for paying for or otherwise facilitating the abortion of his unborn child. 

The Boss Law is facing a court challenge from CompassCare Pregnancy Services, a pro-life pregnancy center headquartered in Rochester, NY, First Bible Baptist Church (also located in Rochester, NY) and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) based in Virginia. The organizations are represented by our legal allies at Alliance Defending Freedom.

“No government has the right to tell pro-life or religious organizations they must hire someone who doesn’t agree with their core mission,” said ADF Senior Counsel Ken Connelly. “New York is directly demeaning religious pro-life pregnancy centers and other faith-based organizations—like religious schools, Catholic hospitals, and even churches—by ordering them to violate their beliefs in key personnel and leadership decisions. The state is requiring our clients to contradict their convictions and undercut their freedom of association—requirements that are flatly unconstitutional.”

“Gov. Cuomo has characterized pro-lifers as extreme and stated that they have no place in New York. He claims his comments were misconstrued, but his actions this year show that he actually meant what he said,” Connelly explained. “In January, he signed into law a bill that would effectively permit abortions up until a child is born. In April, he signed a bill requiring no-cost coverage of contraceptives, including abortifacient drugs. And now he has signed into law SB 660, a bill championed for years by Planned Parenthood, which requires religious and pro-life employers to hire and employ those who reject their belief that children deserve the chance to be born. Gov. Cuomo’s message to pro-life New Yorkers is loud and clear: The abortion agenda of Planned Parenthood trumps the lives of the unborn, and anyone who disagrees will be forced to bow to the state’s orthodoxy by force of law.”