New York Takes Swift Aim at #MeToo
Published by Eric A. Welter and Sarah Tudor Glaser on June 19, 2018
Employers in New York take note – New York state and New York City have passed new laws aimed at curbing sexual harassment through mandatory training. The requirements of the laws have differing effective dates and to help clarify, we have broken it down chronologically.
New York State Law
On April 12, 2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a 2019 New York budget, which among other things, creates several new obligations for New York employers. We have listed them below—-in the order by which they will become effective. Note that this is a summary of the provisions applicable to private employers and there may be additional provisions that apply to public employers or those who contract with the government.
- Liability under the New York State Human Rights Law is now extended to employers who “permit” sexual harassment of “non-employees,” including independent contractors.
Effective July 11, 2018
- Mandatory arbitration agreements that govern sexual harassment claims are no longer valid. Effective July 11, 2018. It is unclear whether this provision will ultimately be enforceable under Federal law.
- Courts are prohibited from approving confidential settlement agreements for sexual harassment claims, unless: (i) confidentiality is the complainant’s preference; (ii) the complainant has been given 21 days to consider the confidentiality provision; and (iii) the complainant is given 7 days in which to revoke his or her acceptance of the confidentiality provision.
Effective October 9, 2018
- The New York Department of Labor (“NYSDOL”) and the New York State Division of Human Rights (“NYSDHR”) are required to collaborate to develop a model sexual harassment prevention policy. All New York employers are required to either adopt the model policy or develop their own policy compliant with the model’s standards. We will issue an update when the model policy is rolled out.
- The NYSDOL and NYSDHR are also required to develop a model interactive sexual harassment prevention training program. All New York employers are required to either present the state-approved model or their own model compliant with state standards on an annual basis. We will issue an update when the model training program is rolled out.
New York City Law
In addition to ensuring compliance with the New York state laws listed above, all private employers in New York City are required to ensure compliance with the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act, signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio on May 9, 2018. Note that this is a summary of the provisions applicable to private employers and there may be additional provisions that apply to public employers or those who contract with the government.
- The New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) is amended to apply provisions related to gender based discrimination to all employers, regardless of the number of employees.
- The policy statement of the NYCHRL is amended to expressly include sexual harassment as a form of discrimination that the CCHR shall have the power to eliminate and prevent.
- The NYCHRL is amended to increase the statute of limitations for filing gender-based harassment claims from one year to three years from the time that the alleged harassment occurred.
Effective September 6, 2018
- All employers must conspicuously display an anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibility poster and distribute an information sheet on sexual harassment to new hires, both to be designed by the Commission on Human Rights. We will issue an update when the poster and notice are rolled out.
Effective April 1, 2019
- All private employers in the city, with 15 or more employees, must conduct annual anti sexual harassment interactive training for all employees of such employer, including interns and supervisory and managerial personnel after 90 days of initial hire.
Employers in New York, and especially those in New York City, should review the requirements of these new laws and immediately take action to ensure compliance.Topics: Employer responsibility, Employment Discrimination and Harassment, Hospitality, New York, New York City, Policies Procedures and Employee Handbooks, Retail, Sexual Harassment, training