Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation Enacting Sweeping New Workplace Harassment Protections

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today 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. This legislation strengthens New York’s anti-discrimination laws. It eliminates the restriction that harassment be “severe or pervasive” in order to be legally actionable.  The law mandates that all non-disclosure agreements allow employees to file a complaint of harassment or discrimination and extends the statute of limitations for employment sexual harassment claims filed from one year to three years.

The new law would:

  • Lower 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;
  • Protect 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;
  • Extend the statute of limitations for employment sexual harassment claims filed with the Division of Human Rights from one year to three years;
  • Require 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;
  • Expand the coverage of the Human Rights Law to all employers in the state;
  • Extend 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;
  • Require courts to interpret the Human Rights Law liberally regardless of the federal rollback of rights;
  • Prohibit mandatory arbitration to resolve cases of discrimination and harassment in the workplace;
  • Update the power of the Attorney General to enforce the Human Rights Law; and
  • Require 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.

To see the test of the legislation that passed click HERE.

 

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