New York City’s Employee Friendly Anti-Discrimination Laws Join the #MeToo Movement

The “Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act” is in its last leg following the New York City Council’s April 11, 2018 enactment of the eleven bills encompassing the Act. The Act, introduced just last month, is expected to be signed by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in short order. If enacted, private employers will be expected to comply with significant changes to their policies and procedures in combatting sexual harassment in the workplace. Among the most significant portions of the legislation are the following:

  1. All private employers with fifteen or more employees, including interns, will be required to conduct annual anti-sexual harassment training seminars for all employees. Further, new employees and interns must complete an anti-sexual harassment training course within the first ninety days of the employee’s hire. Employers will be required to maintain records of their compliance with the law, which shall include employee acknowledgments that the training was received. In order to aid employers in the education of their employees, the Act requires that the New York City Commission on Human Rights create online training tools. This provision is set to take effect on April 1, 2019.
  2. All employers will be required to display a poster created by the New York City Commission on Human Rights that details the new anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities under the Act. The poster must be placed in a conspicuous place to ensure employees are provided with the necessary information at the time of their hire. This provision is scheduled to take effect 120 days after the Act becomes passed into law.
  3. The New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) will be amended to apply to all employers. Currently, the NYCHRL only applies to employers with four or more employees. This section will take effect the day the Act is passed into law.
  4. The Statute of Limitations for claims of gender-based discrimination under the NYCHRL will be extended from one year to three years. This section will also take effect the day the Act is passed into law.
  5. The NYCHRL will also be amended to clarify that sexual harassment is a form of gender-based discrimination. This section will take effect on the day the Act is passed into law.

In anticipation of the passage of the Act into law, employers should ensure that their employees are receiving proper training of the employer’s anti-harassment and harassment reporting policies and procedures. While mandatory training will not take effect until next year, the changes to the NYCHRL are expected to result in a large influx of claims brought under the NYCHRL. Specifically, the amendments to the NYCHRL’s definition of employer and extension of applicable statute of limitations will result in the eligibility of previously ineligible claims. New York City employers are encouraged to contact a labor and employment attorney to ensure compliance with all city, state, and federal anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws and regulations.

By: Ryan M. Eden, Esq. on April 16, 2018.