2019 Sexual Harassment Law in New York Expands Rights for Many Workers

2019 Sexual Harassment Law in New York Expands Rights for Many Workers

As you may know, Governor Cuomo recently signed a sexual harassment law in New York creating additional protections for employees.  What you may not know is that this same law also helps many other categories of workers who may have experienced harassment in the workplace.

What Additional Groups Are Protected?

The soon-to-be-effective law makes it easier for not just those subject to sexual harassment to recover, but also specifically makes it an unlawful discriminatory practice to subject an individual to harassment because of:

·       Age

·       Race

·       Creed

·       Color

·       National Origin

·       Sexual Orientation

·       Gender Identity or Expression

·       Military Status

·       Disability

·       Predisposing Genetic Characteristics

·       Familial Status

·       Marital Status

·       Domestic Violence Victim Status

Along with discrimination based on sex, the above categories are called “protected categories.”

Are Non-Employees Also Protected?

Yes, they are!  After first expanding protection to non-employees against just sexual harassment (in prior amendments to the law), with the 2019 amendments to sexual harassment law in New York, the law also seeks to safeguard non-employees from harassment based on any of the above-referenced protected categories.  This means non-employees (such as a contractor, subcontractor, vendor, consultant, or other person providing services pursuant to a contract in the workplace) are better shielded from harassment in a workplace.

Are There Other Ways Individuals in Protected Categories are Helped by the 2019 Sexual Harassment Law in New York?

Yes, there is more—in addition to individuals who experience sexual harassment, individuals in protected categories who enter into settlement agreements are not required to also enter into a non-disclosure agreement (sometimes referred to as an “NDA”) about the harassment at issue—unless it is what the employee prefers.  This means that it may be harder for employers to just sweep such claims “under the carpet” and leave other employees unaware of what is happening to others at their job.   With the same idea of getting the word out about a discriminatory workplace, soon employers will not be permitted to require employees to arbitrate these types of claims instead of going to Court.  Stay tuned . . . there is more to follow on these topics! 

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