The State of New York has recently passed two pieces of legislation within the last two weeks that all employers need to pay special attention to with respect to your business operations.
Workplace Sexual Harassment
On August 12, 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation (S. 6577/A. 8421) to strengthen New York’s anti-discrimination laws. One provision of the enactment eliminates the requirement that harassment be “severe or pervasive” to be actionable. The new standard of review for sexual harassment cases imposes greater potential liability on employers and goes into effect 60 days after enactment, on October 11, 2019.
Under this change, and consistent with New York City law, it will be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to subject an employee to harassment based on the individual’s membership in any protected class, or because the individual has opposed any harassment claim or participated in a harassment proceeding, “regardless of whether the harassment would be considered severe or pervasive under precedent applied to harassment claims.” This change comports New York law with the current standard under the New York City Human Rights Law.
Another provision extends the statute of limitations to file sexual harassment claims with the New York State Division of Human Rights from one year to three years. The new statute of limitation goes into effect one year after enactment, on August 12, 2020.
This new legislation is more favorable to employees and employers need to do all they can to ensure that the workplace is harassment free.
There are only 55 days left to meet the October 9th deadline for providing How to Avoid Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, training.
Religious Attire, Clothing, Facial Hair
On August 9, 2019, Governor Cuomo signed Senate Bill S4037, which amended the New York State Human Rights law to include protections for an individual’s right to “wear any attire, clothing, or facial hair in accordance with the requirements of his or her religion.”
Under the new law, Employers may not refuse to hire or promote individuals or take other discriminatory action against an individual because of his or her religious attire, clothing, or facial hair. Employers must make a bona fide reasonable effort to accommodate an employee’s or a prospective employee’s sincerely held religious observances or practices. An employer who does not reasonably accommodate a person’s religious practices must demonstrate undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business.
Give us a call to discuss the impact of the latest revisions in NY employment law on your business or to discuss your training options.