Does the 2019 Sexual Harassment Law in New York State Better Protect Me?

Does the 2019 Sexual Harassment Law In New York State Better Protect Me?

Likely yes!  And this is especially true if you work outside of New York City.    

New York State recently passed a law with additional protections for employees that will soon make it easier for you to prove sexual harassment and harassment based on other protected categories including (but not limited to) age, race, creed, color, and national origin.   New York City employees have enjoyed broader protections over recent years and now the rest of New York State will be better protected, too.

A “hostile environment” is one type of sexual harassment. You may find yourself in this situation if you are subject to words, signs, jokes, pranks, unwelcome sexual advances, intimidation, or physical violence directed at you because of your gender, for example. 

New York State Law Now More Like New York City Law

Until now, New York State relied on the same strict standard as federal law to prove that a hostile environment existed at work.  This meant that employees like you had to demonstrate sexual harassment was “severe and pervasive” and only the most extreme isolated incidents (such as direct contact with an intimate body part) were enough for a sexual harassment claim to arise.  Instead, (and more like New York City law) you now need only show the relevant behavior was something more than a petty slight or trivial inconvenience.  The resulting standard applies to all of New York State and makes it unlawful to subject you to worse terms, conditions, or privileges of employment just because you are a woman (or man), an older person, or a member of a minority group.

Courts May Now Let Employees Pursue Additional Claims

So how does this help you?  Based on these changes to sexual harassment law in New York State, Courts may now let additional sexual harassment cases go forward.  For example, a man who endured a more grueling interview process than female employees did and whose supervisor on numerous occasions said she would like to have an all-female staff found his claim dismissed under the “severe and pervasive” hostile work environment standard, but his case went forward under New York City law.[1]  Similarly, a financial industry executive whose claim did not meet the “severe and pervasive” standard previously applicable to New York State cases was able to rely on evidence of unwanted gender-based conduct and widespread institutionalized gender discrimination to state a hostile work environment claim under New York City law.[2]  These cases only survived because the employees worked in New York City.  Now all employees experiencing sexual harassment (including a hostile work environment) in New York State are more broadly protected.

Sexual Harassment is Illegal and Wrong - Fight Back!

If you would like to discuss your situation with us, please feel free to call or email us at any time. You will be on the phone with an attorney within 24 hours.

[1] Lenart v. Coach, Inc., 131 F.Supp.3d 61, 68-69 (S.D.N.Y. 2015).

[2] Osborne v. Moody’s Investors Serv., 1:17-cv-01859 (ALC), 2018 U.S. Dist. Lexis 47558, *14-16 (S.D.N.Y. 2018).