August 12, 2019

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signs legislation enacting sweeping new workplace harassment protections


On August 12, 2019Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation (S.6577/A.8421) to enact sweeping new workplace harassment protections, fulfilling a key component of Governor Cuomo's 2019 Women's Justice Agenda by:

1. Eliminating restriction that harassment be "severe or pervasive" in order for it to be legally actionable;

2. Mandates that all employment contract non-disclosure agreements [NDAs] include language allowing employees to file a complaint of harassment or discrimination; and

3. Extends statute of limitations for employment sexual harassment claims filed from one year to three years.

To further protect workers and hold abusers accountable, this legislation:

Lowers the high bar set for employees to hold employers accountable for sexual harassment by amending under the New York Human Rights Law to make clear that conduct need not be  "severe or pervasive" to constitute actionable conduct;

Protects employees' rights to pursue complaints by mandating that all non-disclosure agreements in employment contracts include language stating that employees may still file a complaint of harassment or discrimination with a state or local agency and testify or participate in a government investigation;

Extends the statute of limitations for employment sexual harassment claims filed with the Division of Human Rights from one year to three years;

Requires employers to provide their employees with notice about the employer's sexual harassment prevention policy in English as well as the employee's primary language;

Expands the coverage of the Human Rights Law to all employers in the state;

Extends protections against all forms of discrimination in the workplace to all contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants, or others providing services; and against all forms of discriminatory harassment to domestic workers;

Requires courts to interpret the Human Rights Law liberally regardless of the federal rollback of rights;

Prohibits mandatory arbitration to resolve cases of discrimination and harassment in the workplace;

Updates the power of the Attorney General to enforce the Human Rights Law; and

Requires a study on how best to build on recent sexual harassment prevention laws to combat all types of discrimination in the workplace and a review of sexual harassment policies every four years.

A copy of the text of this measure is available from NYPPL as an attachment to an e-mail. Send your request to publications@nycap.rr.com with "workplace harassment protections" as the subject.

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