Harassment

New York Legislature Passes Significant Amendments to Strengthen Sexual Harassment Protections for Employees

March 9, 2022

By Gianelle M. Duby

The New York legislature has passed significant legislation that would further expand sexual harassment protections for employees in New York. This suite of legislation is intended to ensure that all public and private employees are treated in a fair manner and have the necessary resources available to seek accountability from their employers. If signed by the governor, the legislation will ban “no-rehire” clauses in settlement agreements, extend the statute of limitations for workplace harassment and discrimination claims, explicitly extend applicability of the New York Human Rights Law (HRL) to public employees, provide protection from unlawful retaliation, create a confidential sexual harassment hotline and enact the Let Survivors Speak Act. Each provision is discussed in turn below.

Read More >> New York Legislature Passes Significant Amendments to Strengthen Sexual Harassment Protections for Employees

Mandatory Arbitration of Workplace Sexual Harassment and Assault Claims Soon to be Prohibited

February 14, 2022

By Travis R. Talerico

On Feb. 10, 2022, the U.S. Senate passed H.R. 4445 – the “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021,” also known as the “#MeToo Bill.” 

The #MeToo Bill will amend the Federal Arbitration Act, and will invalidate mandatory arbitration agreements that preclude an employee from filing a lawsuit in court arising from workplace sexual assault or sexual harassment. The Bill will have a significant impact on employment law, as these arbitration provisions are commonly included in employment contracts. The Bill will also limit the ways in which an employee can pursue their claims, and keep the details of those claims out of the public eye far more than a typical court proceeding. 

Read More >> Mandatory Arbitration of Workplace Sexual Harassment and Assault Claims Soon to be Prohibited

Governor Cuomo Signs Bill Amending the Human Rights Law

August 13, 2019

By Theresa E. Rusnak and Subhash Viswanathan

On August 12, 2019, Governor Cuomo signed the legislation that was passed by the New York State Assembly and Senate on June 19, 2019, making sweeping changes to the New York Human Rights Law. We previously posted a summary of the significant amendments to the Human Rights Law and the potential impact that these amendments could have on the litigation of discrimination and harassment claims filed with the Division of Human Rights and in court. The legislation does not apply retroactively, so only future claims under the Human Rights Law will be affected.

Read More >> Governor Cuomo Signs Bill Amending the Human Rights Law

Federal Court Holds That New York Law Prohibiting Mandatory Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Claims Is Invalid

July 15, 2019

By Kaveh Dabashi

In 2018, Governor Cuomo signed a State Budget bill that included various provisions addressing sexual harassment in the workplace.  Among those provisions was a prohibition on including in any written contract a clause requiring the submission of sexual harassment claims to arbitration, except where inconsistent with federal law.  On June 26, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York held, in Latif v. Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC, that this New York law prohibiting mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment claims is inconsistent with the Federal Arbitration Act and is therefore invalid.

Read More >> Federal Court Holds That New York Law Prohibiting Mandatory Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Claims Is Invalid

New York Legislature Passes Significant Amendments to the New York Human Rights Law

June 21, 2019

By Theresa E. Rusnak and Subhash Viswanathan

On June 19, 2019, the New York State Assembly and Senate passed legislation that makes sweeping changes to the New York Human Rights Law.  This legislation will have a significant impact on the litigation of discrimination and harassment claims filed with the Division of Human Rights and in court.  It is expected that Governor Cuomo will sign the legislation soon.  The legislation does not apply retroactively, so only future claims under the Human Rights Law will be affected.

Read More >> New York Legislature Passes Significant Amendments to the New York Human Rights Law

An Old "SNL" Skit, A New Court Decision, and How Rumors Can Lead to Sexual Harassment Liability

March 4, 2019

By Howard M. Miller

For those of you old enough to remember (and young enough to search YouTube), when Saturday Night Live was in its early heyday, one of its most popular skits was “Point/Counterpoint” starring Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin.  During this satire on news commentary, Mr. Aykroyd would start his “counterpoint” with “Jane, you ignorant slut,” a phrase that drew laughs in the 70s, but may not be so well received -- even in jest -- today.  And, as we will see from a recent court decision discussed below, when sophomoric name-calling leads to the actual spread of rumors in the workplace, liability for sexual harassment can attach.

Read More >> An Old "SNL" Skit, A New Court Decision, and How Rumors Can Lead to Sexual Harassment Liability

New York Issues Final Model Sexual Harassment Policy and Training Guidelines

October 1, 2018

By Subhash Viswanathan

On October 1, the New York State Division of Human Rights issued its final model sexual harassment policy and training guidelines to assist employers in complying with the new sexual harassment legislation that will become effective October 9, 2018.  One piece of good news for employers is that the Division's final training guidelines no longer require that employers train all employees by January 1, 2019, as the Division initially proposed.  Instead, according to the FAQs, employers will have until October 9, 2019 -- a full 12 months from the effective date of the legislation -- to complete the training for all employees.  In addition, the Division's final training guidelines no longer require that new employees complete the sexual harassment training within 30 calendar days of starting their job.  Instead, the Division's guidelines simply encourage employers to train their new employees "as soon as possible" after beginning employment.

Read More >> New York Issues Final Model Sexual Harassment Policy and Training Guidelines

New York City Employers Beware: New Posting and Training Requirements on Sexual Harassment Will Soon Take Effect

September 3, 2018

By Jessica C. Moller

There has recently been a lot of talk about New York State’s new sexual harassment policy and training requirements that will be taking effect state-wide on October 9, 2018.  But New York City employers must also beware of new requirements specific to New York City, some of which will be taking effect on September 6, 2018.

Read More >> New York City Employers Beware: New Posting and Training Requirements on Sexual Harassment Will Soon Take Effect

EEOC Issues Proposed Enforcement Guidance on Unlawful Harassment

February 3, 2017

By Alyssa N. Campbell
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is seeking public comment on its newly proposed enforcement guidance addressing unlawful workplace harassment under the federal anti-discrimination laws.  The initial deadline for employers and other members of the public to submit input regarding the proposed guidance was February 9, but the EEOC just announced today that it was extending the deadline to March 21. The publishing of the new proposed guidance stems from the recommendations made last June by the EEOC’s Select Task Force on the study of harassment in the workplace.  If put into effect, the new guidelines would supersede pre-existing agency guidelines created during the 1990s.  The EEOC issued a press release, in which EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum was quoted as saying:  “This guidance clearly sets forth the Commission's positions on harassment law, provides helpful explanatory examples, and provides promising practices based on the recommendations in the report.” The majority of the 75-page guidance offers an overview of the EEOC’s positions on the following topics:
  • harassment based on protected characteristics (race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, and genetic information);
  • establishing causation;
  • harassment resulting in discrimination based on a term, condition, or privilege of employment;
  • defining hostile work environment claims;
  • employer liability standards; and
  • systemic harassment.
In its guidance, the EEOC also suggests a number of “promising practices” to help employers eliminate workplace harassment including:
  • committed and engaged leadership;
  • strong and comprehensive harassment policies;
  • trusted and accessible complaint procedures; and
  • regular and interactive anti-harassment trainings.
In its press release accompanying the issuance of the proposed guidance, the EEOC stated that the new guidance is necessary because the number of harassment claims filed over the past several years is on the rise.  According to the EEOC, between 2012 and 2015, the percentage of private sector charges that included an allegation of harassment increased from slightly more than one-quarter of all charges annually to over 30% of all charges.  In 2015, the EEOC received 27,893 private sector charges that included an allegation of harassment, accounting for more than 31% of the charges filed that year. Employers who are interested in providing input on the proposed guidance may do so by submitting comments through www.regulations.gov, or by sending written feedback to:  Public Input, EEOC, Executive Officer, 131 M Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20507.  The EEOC will consider input from the public before finalizing and issuing the guidance.  In addition, this would be an opportune time for employers to review their anti-harassment policies and complaint procedures, to revise those policies and procedures if necessary, and to conduct some anti-harassment training for employees.