Cuomo's ‘God Bless You’ Law Nothing to Sneeze At

By Dodie Fingerton

Published May 8th, 2016

Public Domain

ALBANY— State workers would be limited to the number of times they could say “God Bless You” in the workplace under a new law proposed by Gov. Cuomo.

Dubbed “Jerry's Law” after an anonymous Department of Transportation employee who sneezes 73 times a day, the law will cap the number of “God Bless You” utterances made on New York's dime at six per week.

“Like last year's smile ban, this is another piece of commonsense legislation,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Every time someone sneezes in a state office building there's a noticeable decrease in production. And for what? A social courtesy? Yeah, not under my watch.”

The bill would also pertain to Godless foreign language translations of “To Your Health!” — such as the German term, “Gesundheit!” — along with the Seinfeld-inspired, “You're soooo good-looking.”

“Basically any time a state worker acknowledges a sneeze with some sort of remark — religious, secular, witty or otherwise — it will count toward their weekly quota,” Cuomo said. “Anyone who exceeds six in a week will be placed on unpaid administrative leave.”

New Yorker's For Conventional Replies To Involuntary Expulsions of Air, a pro-sneezing response group based in Troy, slammed the proposal, calling it “Anti-social” and “Hitler-ish.”

“People have said ‘God Bless You’ to one another since the plagues of the sixth century,” said Robbie Rist, the organization’s legislative director. “What's next? A blanket ‘God Bless You’ policy?”

Rist was referring to the popular LEAN manufacturing practice whereby employees of private companies are asked to sign across-the-board “God Bless You” agreements designed to cover them in the event that someone sneezes in their vicinity over the course of their employment.

“Under the terms of these types of contracts all ‘God Bless You’ wishes are implied,” said Rist. “That's really sick.”

Advocates of the initiative, however, say that blanket “God Bless You” strategies have had a positive effect on profit margins.

“Since our employees stopped saying ‘God Bless You’ to one another, production is up, and error-rates and waste are down,” said Barry Lookinland, president and CEO of Lookinland Printing in Scotia. “It’s a win-win.”

Though Cuomo acknowledged the benefits of lean thinking, he defended his proposal as “a fair compromise.”

“I think six ‘God Bless You's’ a week is reasonable,” Cuomo said. “Any more and we're treading into dangerous territory.”


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