HR Alert: Sexual Harassment Statute of Limitations Lengthened in the Division of Human Rights

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Last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law several updates to the New York State Human Rights Law to strengthen protections against discrimination and harassment. For example:

  1. Domestic workers now are protected from harassment on all bases.
  2. The standard to prove hostile work environment sexual harassment was reduced from severe and pervasive to all harassment that exceeds petty slights or trivial inconveniences.
  3. The Faragher-Ellerth defense was eliminated for New York-law based claims. This defense had allowed employers to defend a claim if their employee didn’t first follow an established internal complaint process. Notably, this defense still exists under Title VII.
  4. The law now applies to even the smallest employers in the State.

With all these changes, there were various effective dates. One major change recently came into effect:

The statute of limitations to bring an employment-related sexual harassment claim with the New York Division of Human Rights was extended from one to three years from the occurrence.

What this change does: It extends the deadline for an employee to bring her sexual harassment claim to the Division of Human Rights. But it applies to acts that occurred only after August 12, 2020. Claims about prior conduct are cut off after one year.

What this change doesn’t do: It doesn’t apply to sexual harassment claims that aren’t related to employment. It also doesn’t apply to discriminatory acts that happened before August 12, 2020. Finally, it doesn’t change the statute of limitation for bringing a claim in State Supreme Court either. That remains three years from the date of the alleged harassment.

Keeping track of all of these changes can be confusing. If you need help understanding these changes, The Coppola Firm can help. If you believe you’ve been sexually harassed at work, we can help you understand your claim, the law, and your options.

Our team of experienced attorneys is here to guide you through the ever-changing field of employment law.

Lisa Coppola

Written by Lisa Coppola

Founder of The Coppola Firm

Lisa A. Coppola, Esq. understands the challenges her clients face, whether they’re starting a new business, taking their existing operations in a new direction, or facing a claim or threat.

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