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Know Your Rights
Source: Make the Road New York
Subject: Health Justice & Access
Type: Media Coverage

MRNY Wins Major Victory as State Attorney General Orders New York Pharmacy Chains to End Discrimination in Response to Our Landmark Civil Rights Complaint

On April 21, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced more settlements in Make the Road New York’s landmark civil rights complaint against New York State’s largest pharmacy chains. Wal-Mart, CVS, Duane Reade, Pathmark, Target, Costco, Rite Aid each signed comprehensive corrective action agreements with Attorney General Cuomo requiring them to provide interpretation and translation services for millions of New Yorkers. Read about this exciting victory in The New York Times, New York Daily News, and El Diario

Over the past two decades, New York has undergone a major demographic shift as new immigrants have revitalized our State. Today, half of all New Yorkers speak a language other than English in the home, and millions of New Yorkers are still in the process of learning English. These new New Yorkers have made neighborhoods across the City safer, and they are working hard and paying the taxes that keep our State running.

New York City and State governments have responded to changing demographics and pressure from MRNY by requiring improved language access services at government agencies and hospitals. Sadly, until today, most New York pharmacies have been lagging far behind the government on this issue.

In 2006, MRNY worked with the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and the New York Immigration Coalition to file a civil rights complaint against several major NY pharmacy chains alleging a widespread failure to comply with city, state and federal laws requiring translation and interpretation services that millions of New Yorkers desperately need.

Taking medication can be dangerous, and it is essential that all New Yorkers understand how to safely take the medications that their doctors prescribe. Taking too much asthma medication, for example, can put you in a coma.

As a result of language barriers, New Yorkers take the wrong dosage of medications or take their medications more or less frequently than prescribed. Every day, New Yorkers also take dangerous combinations of medicines or ingest topical medications as a result of language barriers.

Last November, Attorney General Cuomo announced exiting settlement agreements with the two largest pharmacy chains in New York State – CVS and Rite Aid. Those two pharmacies agreed to provide customers at more than 2,000 pharmacies throughout the state with spoken and written language services in Chinese, French, Italian, Russian, Polish, and Spanish. Today, Attorney General Cuomo builds on his significant achievements protecting the civil rights of all New Yorkers by announcing similar settlement agreements with five other major pharmacy chains.

Make the Road New York is proud to have helped win major language access and public safety improvements at pharmacies throughout the state.