IN JUNE 2019, NEW YORK LAWMAKERS PASSED AN ANTI-SEXUAL HARASSMENT BILL THAT WOULD MAKE IT EASIER FOR WORKERS TO WIN DISCRIMINATION LAWSUITS.
Governor Andrew Cuomo supports this bill and is expected to sign it in the near future.
The new bill would lower the current “severe or pervasive” standard employees must meet to show that they have been harassed or discriminated in the workplace.
o The new bill would only allow an employer to escape liability if it can show that the alleged harassment comprises “petty slights or trivial inconveniences.”
The new bill would also limit the Faragher-Ellerth Defense, which currently allows employers to escape liability if they made reasonable efforts to prevent the harassment and the employee failed to complain.
o The new bill recognizes that employees often do not report harassment out of fear of retaliation and under the new bill, the fact that an employee did not complain “shall not be determinative of whether such employer … shall be liable.”
What this all means is that it will be easier for employees in New York to prove harassment or discrimination based on age, race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation and the other categories protected under state law.
EMPLOYERS SHOULD CALL OUR FIRM IMMEDIATELY to ensure that their anti-discrimination and sexual harassment prevention policies are updated and to schedule the sexual harassment prevention training mandated by New York State law.
Recently, an employee, after attending one of our anti-discrimination/sexual harassment prevention training seminars and learning about the company’s zero-tolerance policy towards harassment and complaint procedure, decided to complain to the company instead of filing a claim with an administrative agency or court.
By keeping the complaint internal and addressing the issue immediately, the company saved themselves from a potential claim, which would have cost the company a significant monetary amount.