New and Improved Work Place Harassment Laws Have Gone into Effect

The proposed and revised New York State work place harassment laws were just signed into law this week by Governor Andrew Cuomo. These provisions focused on increased protections for protected classes regarding anti-harassment and anti-discrimination measures that must now be taken by all employers in this state. Several revisions of these laws fixated on employees who have been sexually harassed. These various amendments to the New York Labor Law (NYLL), the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), the Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR), and the General Obligations Law have started to take effect and all provisions will be fully implemented within a year.

Some of the significant amendments to worker protections are detailed below:

  • Nondisclosure agreements related to discrimination will be prohibited
  • Mandatory arbitration clauses related to discrimination prohibited
  • Employers will be required to provide its employees written notice of their sexual harassment prevention training sessions
  • The statute of limitations will now be three years for claims of discriminatory practices that are sexual in nature (previously one year)
  • Company’s sexual harassment prevention policies and prevention guidance documents will require updates and reviews
  • Employees will now have a lower burden of proof in showing alleged harassment or retaliation with the elimination of the previous “severe or pervasive” standard
  • The Human Rights Law will be extended to cover all employers of the state
  • Employees will be able to request punitive damages and attorney’s fees in employment discrimination cases
  • Sexual harassment complaints filed directly with the NYSDHR can now be filed up to three years after the alleged harassment (previously one year)

These new and updated laws will help keep New York State a leader in progressive reform with regard to harassment in the workplace. For too long now, many employees have experienced debilitating forms of harassment only to have to overcome unnecessary legal barriers before finding justice. If you have any questions or concerns about harassment or retaliation of any kind in the workplace, do not hesitate to call one of the employment attorneys for a free phone consultation. Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP offers a confidential consultation with one of our experienced attorneys who will help determine if you have a potential claim. You can reach us at (212) 300-0375 or you can visit our website for additional information.