Late last week, Governor Cuomo signed into law new protections for New York employees and others, particularly those who claim sexual harassment. While the law creates sweeping changes for both public and private employers, we concentrate here on what private employers can expect in the coming months.
Effective immediately, the new law expands the protections of New York State Human Rights Law to non-employees such as contractors, subcontractors, vendors, and consultants. What does this mean? In a nutshell, it means that a company can be liable under certain circumstances when its employee sexually harasses a non-employee such as a vendor, independent contractor or consultant, for example.
Then, effective July 11, 2018, only three months from now, New York will prohibit an employer from mandating that sexual harassment claims must be arbitrated and also will bar most non-disclosure agreements. As we’ve seen in the national discussion on sexual harassment, non-disclosure provisions often are used in sexual harassment settlements. Now, unless the claimant agrees, non-disclosure provisions can’t be used.
Beginning in October 2018, we expect a host of new regulations including a model anti-harassment policy and sexual harassment training for employees. New York employers will be required to provide annual harassment training to their employees and distribute either the State-sanctioned anti-harassment policy or their own compliant policies to all employees.
Our attorneys are closely monitoring these changes and will be reporting on additional developments as the month’s pass. As always, our goal is to quickly and efficiently help our employer clients ensure their policies and training comply with the new laws.