New York Legislature and New York City Council Enact New Sexual Harassment Laws

NYS Capitol PanoramaIn New York City, sexual harassment claims are covered by federal, state, and city law. The New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) and the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) offer some of the most comprehensive protection against discrimination in the country. Sexual harassment in the workplace has received a considerable amount of media attention in the past year, and both New York State and New York City have responded by enacting a series of new laws addressing numerous aspects of workplace harassment. The New York State Legislature passed a budget bill, S. 7507/A. 9507, in March, and the Governor signed it into law on April 12, 2018. Part KK of the bill includes multiple sexual harassment provisions. The New York City Council passed seven separate laws dealing with sexual harassment, collectively known as the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act. The Mayor signed them all on May 9.

The new laws overlap on two matters: mandatory anti-harassment training and policies, and requirements for public contractors.

Mandatory Anti-Harassment Training

Subpart E of Part KK of the New York budget bill amends the Labor Law, adding a section that directs the state to develop a “model sexual harassment prevention guidance document” and a “sexual harassment prevention policy.” Employers must adopt the model policy, or one that is consistent with it; must distribute this policy in writing to all employees; and must provide annual anti-harassment training programs. This subpart takes effect on October 9, 2018.

In New York City, Int. 0632-2018 amends § 8-107 of the NYCHRL to require that all employers with at least fifteen employees “annually conduct an anti-sexual harassment interactive training for all employees.” This becomes effective on April 1, 2019.

Government Contractors

In the New York budget bill, Subpart A amends the Finance Law. In order to bid on certain public or state contracts, contractors must state that they have met the training and written policy requirements of Subpart E. This will take effect on January 1, 2019.

Similarly, Int. 0693-2018 requires city contractors to adopt policies and procedures “related to preventing and addressing sexual harassment.” This will take effect on July 8, 2018.

New York State Law

The New York budget bill contained four additional provisions. Two took effect immediately upon signing:
– Subpart C requires state employees who are the subjects of sexual harassment settlements to reimburse the state for the settlement amount.
– Subpart F expands the NYSHRL provisions on sexual harassment to include “non-employees,” such as a “contractor, subcontractor, vendor, consultant or other person providing services pursuant to a contract in the workplace.”

The other two provisions will take effect on July 11, 2018:
– Subpart B institutes a ban on mandatory arbitration clauses for discrimination or sexual harassment claims, except where federal law or a collective bargaining agreement applies.
– Subpart D generally prohibits nondisclosure agreements in sexual harassment settlements.

New York City Laws

Three of the New York City laws became effective upon signing:
Int. 0657-2018 states that gender-based harassment applies to all employers, regardless of size.
Int. 0663-2018 increases the statute of limitations for gender-based harassment claims from one to three years.
Int. 0660-2018 updates the NYCHRL’s policy statement, declaring that “gender-based harassment threatens the terms, conditions and privileges of employment.”

Int. 0614-2018, which takes effect on August 7, 2018, requires the the NYC Commission on Human Rights to make various resources available on its website.

Int. 0630-2018 takes effect on September 6, 2018, and requires employers to display an information sheet on sexual harassment, which the Commission on Human Rights will create.

To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a team of experienced employment attorneys, please contact Phillips & Associates today at (212) 248-7431 or online.

More Blog Posts:

Bill in New York State Legislature Addresses Fashion Industry Sexual Harassment, New York Employment Attorney Blog, June 22, 2018

Nondisparagement Clauses Could Interfere with Ability to Assert New York City Sexual Harassment Claims, New York Employment Attorney Blog, April 23, 2018

New York City Sexual Harassment Law Influences Lawmakers Around the Country, New York Employment Attorney Blog, February 1, 2018

Photo credit: Matt H. Wade [CC BY 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons.

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