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New York Governor Cuomo Announces ‘Sweeping New Workplace Discrimination & Harassment Protections’ That Immediately Go Into Effect

New Law ‘Eliminates Restriction’ That Harassment Be "Severe Or Pervasive" In Order For It To Be Legally Actionable & Prohibits Confidentiality Requirements In Employment Discrimination Cases

Published Sunday, October 13, 2019
by Governor Cuomo’s Press Office
New York Governor Cuomo Announces ‘Sweeping New Workplace Discrimination & Harassment Protections’ That Immediately Go Into Effect

(ALBANY, NEW YORK) - Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that key components of new legislation greatly expanding the scope of New York's Workplace Anti-Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Protections that immediately go into effect.

The new provisions eliminate restrictions that harassment be "severe or pervasive" in order for it to be legally actionable and prohibits confidentiality requirements in employment discrimination cases.

These measures are central components of the Governor's 2019 Women's Justice Agenda.

"The ongoing culture of sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable and has held Employees back for far too long," Cuomo said. "This critical measure finally ends the absurd legal standard for victims to prove sexual harassment in the workplace and makes it easier for those who have been subjected to this disgusting behavior to bring claims forward.  Now it's time for employers across the state to step up and review their internal policies to ensure their Employees are protected from harassment or discrimination and abusers who violate these standards are held accountable."

The provisions went into effect on Friday (October 11th), make clear that harassment - including sexual harassment - of an Employee need not be "severe or pervasive" to constitute actionable conduct against an employer.

They also expand protections against all forms of workplace discrimination to include Domestic Workers and all contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants and others providing services in the workplace.

Additional provisions taking effect allow individuals and attorneys to seek financial awards in Employment Discrimination Cases, prohibit confidentiality requirements in Employment Discrimination Settlements - unless such confidentiality is the Employee's preference, and require that all Confidentiality Agreements be written in plain English - and, if applicable, the Employee's primary language.

"We must continue to change the culture and ensure women are protected from discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace and beyond," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "These protections build on New York's Nation-leading efforts to combat sexual harassment and make sure survivors have the resources and support they need to seek justice and hold abusers accountable.  This is another important step forward in advancing Women's Rights and achieving full equality once and for all."

The Governor initially proposed these wide-ranging reforms in his 2019 Women's Justice Agenda and again in his Fiscal Year 2020 Executive Budget.

Further information regarding these changes to the New York State Human Rights Law is available at www.dhr.ny.gov/sexualharassment.

To Read The Governor’s Announcement In Its Entirety, Go To: www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-sweeping-new-workplace-discrimination-and-harassment-protections-go

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