The New York Senate recently passed a host of new laws designed to strengthen New York laws protecting victims of sexual harassment. (NOTE: this legislation is currently winding its way through the New York legislative process, and is, as of this writing, not yet enacted.)
These laws include:
S738 (Let Survivors Speak Act): Amends NY General Obligations Law 5-336 to prohibit any settlement or other resolution of a claim involving sexual harassment or any other form of unlawful discrimination from including any term or condition that requires the complainant, to pay the defendant liquidated damages in the event that the plaintiff violates a non-disclosure agreement.
S766 (“No-Rehire” Ban): Adds a new section, General Obligations Law 5-338, to provide that no release of a claim made by an employee or independent contractor against an employer shall be valid if, as part of the agreement resolving the claim, the employee or independent contractor is barred from applying for or accepting future employment with the employer or any entities related to the employer.
S566A (Extending Statute of Limitations for NYS Human Rights Law Administrative Filings): Amends the NYS Human Rights Law (NY Executive Law 297) to extend the statute of limitations for filing complaints about any alleged unlawful discriminatory practices to the New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) from one year to three years, consistent with the current statute of limitations for administration complaints to DHR alleging sexual harassment in employment.
S3395A (Closing “Personal Staff” Loophole): Amends NY Executive Law 292, as amended, to provide that the state shall be considered the direct employer of elected and appointed officials and their staff for the purposes of the Human Rights Law and extends this provision to localities as well.
S849A (Extends Statute of Limitations for Employment Discrimination Claims): Extends the statute of limitations for unlawful discriminatory practices in employment from three years to six years.
S5870 (Expanding Unlawful Retaliation to Prohibit Release of Personnel Records): Prohibits the release of personnel or employees as a retaliatory action against employees who complain or assist in proceedings involving unlawful discriminatory practices by employers.
S812A (Sexual Harassment Hotline): Amends NY Executive Law 295 by adding a new subdivision 17 which establishes a confidential legal hotline for workplace sexual harassment complaints which shall be accessible by a toll-free phone number, at which pro bono attorneys will provide counsel and assistance.
New NYS Sexual Harassment Legislation
|S738||Biaggi||An act to amend the general obligations law, in relation to violations of nondisclosure agreements in certain settlement agreements||to prohibit liquidated damages provisions in confidential settlements of harassment and discrimination claims.||Prohibits settlement agreements in any claim involving sexual harassment or any other form of discrimination prohibited by law from containing any condition that requires the complainant to pay the defendant liquidated damages in the event that the plaintiff violates any nondisclosure agreement included in such settlement agreement.||GOL 5-336||Passed Senate; Awaiting Assembly|
|S766||Gounardes||An act to amend the general obligations law, in relation to the release of certain claims by certain employees||To ban "no-rehire" clauses in settlement contracts between employers and employees.||Makes the release of any claim by an employee, or independent contractor who is a natural person, against an employer, unenforceable if, as a condition of such resolution, the employee or independent contractor is prohibited from applying for, accepting, or engaging in future employment with such employer, or any entity or entities related to such employer.||GOL (adds new section 5-338)||Passed Senate; Awaiting Assembly|
|S566A||Hoylman||An act to amend the executive law, in relation to extending the statute of limitations for claims resulting from unlawful discriminatory practices to three years||To extend the administrative statute of limitations for any unlawful discrimination practice from one year to three years.||Section 1 of the bill amends Section 297 ("Procedure") of Article 15 of the Executive Law ("Human Rights Law") to extend the statute of limita- tions for filing complaints about any alleged unlawful discriminatory practices to the New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) from one year to three years, consistent with the current statute of limitations for administration complaints to DHR alleging sexual harassment in employment.||NY Executive Law 297||Passed Senate; Awaiting Assembly|
|S3395A||Gounardes||An act to amend the executive law, in relation to the definition of "employer" for purposes of the human rights law||To close the "personal staff' loophole by clarifying that the state or a locality is considered an employer of anyone serving in the state or local executive, judiciary, and legislative branches, including the staff of elected officials or judges and elected officials themselves.||Includes the state and all public employers as employers subject to the provisions of the human rights law; includes executive, legislative and judicial employers.||NY Executive Law 292||Passed Senate; Passed Assembly|
|S849A||Gounardes||An act to amend the civil practice law and rules, in relation to the statute of limitations for actions based upon unlawful discriminatory practice in employment||To extend the statute of limitations for harassment in the workplace to six years.||Relates to the statute of limitations for actions based on discriminatory practices in employment; establishes action must be commenced within six years.||CPLR 213||Passed Senate; Awaiting Assembly|
|S5870||Gounardes||An act to amend the executive law, in relation to retaliation against certain unlawful discriminatory practices by employers||To clarify that release of personnel records to discount victims of workplace discrimination counts as a retaliatory action under the Human Rights Law and to provide additional recourse to victims of such retaliation||Prohibits the release of personnel or employees as a retaliatory action against employees who complain or assist in proceedings involving unlawful discriminatory practices by employers.||NY Executive Law 296(7), 297(9)||Passed Senate; Passed Assembly|
|S812A||Biaggi||An act to amend the executive law, in relation to establishing a toll free confidential hotline for complainants of workplace sexual harassment||To establish a legal hotline for complainants of workplace sexual harassment.||Establishes a toll free confidential hotline for complainants of workplace sexual harassment to be administered by the division of human rights; makes related provisions.||NY Executive Law 295||On Floor Calendar|