For Immediate Release
Contact: Robin Wood, 518.782.9400, ext 223
New York City, July 23, 2010 – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in New York City has notified the New York State Nurses Association that it has issued a determination, finding that there is reason to believe that the City of New York's refusal to designate the jobs of nurses and midwives as physically taxing constitutes illegal discrimination against women on the basis of gender in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
The ruling is the result of a class action gender discrimination claim with EEOC that the Nurses Association filed in August 2008 because of New York City’s refusal to provide nurses and midwives with the same rights afforded to other workers with “physically taxing” jobs. The ruling requires the city to come to an agreement with the Nurses Association or face a possible lawsuit.
The city has classified more than 300 jobs, mostly in male-dominated fields, as physically taxing occupations, allowing workers to retire with 25 years of service at age 50 with a full pension. The physically taxing list includes jobs such as assistant locksmiths and gardeners, but not nurses and midwives, despite the fact that nurses lift the equivalent of 1.8 tons per shift, spend most of their shift on their feet, and are routinely exposed to both hazardous and stressful conditions.
“This is a huge victory, and an important recognition of the value and physical stress of the work that nurses do every day,” said Nurses Association CEO Tina Gerardi, MS, RN, CAE. “We know that our profession can take a toll on nurses, in some cases forcing them to retire early. It is only fair and right that the city provide nurses and midwives with the same benefits that it provides to other workers with physically taxing jobs.”
The next step of the EEOC process is that the EEOC will attempt to bring the parties together in talks to resolve the situation. The Nurses Association welcomes the opportunity to sit down with the city and is committed to achieving a fair resolution for the nurses and midwives. The Nurses Association represents approximately 8,000 nurses employed by the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), the city’s public hospital system.
“We are thrilled with the EEOC ruling,” said Lorraine Seidel, MA, RN, director of the Nurses Association’s Economic and General Welfare program. “This is yet another example of our commitment to strong advocacy for our collective bargaining members, but it is likely not the end of the fight. We will never abandon city nurses and will continue to fight to obtain the benefits that should rightfully be theirs.”
The New York State Nurses Association is the voice for nursing in the Empire State. With more than 36,000 members, it is the state's largest professional association and largest union for registered nurses. It supports nurses and nursing practice through education, research, legislative advocacy, and collective bargaining.
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