The New York City Council recently passed a package of new laws designed to address the prevalence of sexual harassment and hostile work environment complaints throughout the city. Known collectively as the “Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act,” the new legislation significantly expands the scope of private employers subject to the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) and directs all employers to undertake specific activities designed to identify and prevent workplace discrimination.
All City Employers Now Liable for Harassment
Prior to the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act, the NYCHRL only applied to businesses with at least four or more employees. Effective immediately, this minimum-employee requirement has been eliminated. In other words, all New York City employers with at least one employee are subject to the anti-harassment and anti-discrimination provisions of the NYCHRL.
The NYCHRL is enforced by the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Employees who are the victims of sexual harassment or discrimination can file a complaint with the Commission. The Stop Sexual Harassment Act extends the deadline to file such a complaint from one year to three years. For example, if you were the victim of workplace harassment in May 2016, you now have until May 2019 to file a formal complaint with the Commission.
In addition, no later than September 6, 2018, New York City employers will be required to “conspicuously display an anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibility poster” approved by the Commission. Starting in April 2019, businesses with at least 15 employees (including anyone classified as an “intern”) will need to “conduct annual anti-sexual harassment interactive training for all employees.” Such training will be necessary for all new employees within 90 days of their initial hiring.
Employers will also need to adopt a more comprehensive sexual harassment policy under recently adopted provisions of the New York State budget. As of October 9, employers, regardless of size, must either adopt a model sexual harassment policy prepared by the New York State Department of Labor, or a similar policy that “equals or exceeds” the Department's standards.
NY State Further Expands Harassment Protections to Contractors, Vendors
The New York State budget anti-harassment provisions will also expand protections to individuals who are not traditional “employees,” such as contractors, vendors, or consultants. Basically, an employer is potentially liable if their managers or employees sexually harass anyone who does business with their company. The employer's anti-harassment policy should make it clear how any affected individual should report possible harassment.
Obviously, it remains to be seen exactly how all of these new city and state regulations will work in practice. As a New York City worker, you may not be sure about what your rights are, especially if your employer is slow to provide any of the required notices discussed above. If you do have questions or concerns about whether you have experienced workplace harassment and need to speak with a qualified New York employment law attorney, contact the Law Offices of White, Nisar & Hilferty, LLP, at 646-760-6493 today.