New York Adopts New Rules for Preventing Harassment
By Alyse Horan and Alanna Sakovits
On December 6, 2017 V&A partner LaDonna Lusher shared her testimony at the NYC Commission on Human Rights Public Hearing on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. The event, along with Lusher’s testimony, set the foundation for a city-sponsored campaign entitled “It’s Sexual Harassment. Report It. End It.”
Along with this campaign, the state of New York also adopted new rules aimed at preventing sexual harassment from occurring in the workforce. As of April 12, 2018, employers are prohibited from allowing the sexual harassment of non-employees, such as contractors or vendors. Beginning July 11, 2018, the use of nondisclosure agreements that would prevent the disclosure of the facts and circumstances regarding a sexual harassment claim will be limited during the settlement of sexual harassment claims, unless the complainant prefers a confidentiality term or condition. Also, effective July 11, 2018, written contracts cannot include mandatory arbitration clauses for resolving sexual harassment claims, except where inconsistent with federal law. Further, effective October 9, 2018, employers must adopt a sexual harassment prevention training program, which is to be provided to all employees on an annual basis. Finally, effective on October 9, 2018, employers must adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy, that must be provided to all employees in writing.
New York City has also enacted additional sexual harassment prevention measures. Beginning April 1, 2019, New York City employers with 15 or more employees are required to conduct annual anti-sexual harassment training for all employees and interns. Anti-sexual harassment posters, published by the New York City Commission on Human Rights, are required to be hung in a common-space in the workplace. The protections against gender-based harassment will also be expanded to all employers, regardless of number of employees. Finally, the statute of limitations for filing claims of gender-based harassment with the New York City Commission on Human Rights will be expanded from one year to three years.