Earlier this month, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an update to the New York State Human Rights Law. The updates make it easier for employees to raise and pursue harassment and discrimination claims.
Effective immediately employers are required to distribute harassment and discrimination policies to all new hires and at annually required harassment training. The policy must be available in English, as well as the employee’s primary language.
Some of the other primary updates which will go into effect within the next six months include:
- Lowering the burden of proof by updating the “severe or pervasive” language allowing for employees to claim harassment or discrimination where “inferior” work conditions exist.
- Expanding the law to cover all employees, including domestic workers and certain non-employees.
- Updating the language in non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements to ensure that the agreement does not limit an employee’s ability to file a complaint, testify or comply with a subpoena.
- Extending the ban on mandatory arbitration and making it allowable to award punitive damages.
- Ensure harassment and discrimination policies and training are updated and implemented and distributed according to the law.
- Update Employee Handbooks with the updated policy.
- Review and update non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements, as well as employment contracts.
- Review updated provisions of the law on the state’s Combatting Sexual Harassment in the Workplace website.