New York State Human Rights Law Amendments Signed into Law

Previously, we posted about the changes that were being made to the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”), more of which can be found here.  On August 12, 2019, Governor Cuomo officially signed the bill into law.   This is the latest of the laws signed by Governor Cuomo, since previously signing laws governing pay equity, salary history disclosure and hair discrimination.  Now that the bill has been signed into law, the below sets forth the various effective dates of the law for employers and employees in New York should be aware of:

Description of Amendment Effective Date
Bans discrimination based on natural hair or hair styles July 12, 2019
Requires courts to interpret the NYSHRL liberally regardless of the federal rollback of rights August 12, 2019
Requires employers to provide their employees with notice about the employer’s sexual harassment prevention policy in English as well as the employee’s primary language August 12, 2019
Allows for attorneys’ fees and punitive damages to be awarded to employees October 11, 2019
Eliminates Faragher-Ellerth affirmative defense for corrective action October 11, 2019
Eliminates Protects employees’ rights to pursue complaints by mandating that all non-disclosure agreements in employment contracts include language stating that employees may still file a complaint of harassment or discrimination with a state or local agency and testify or participate in a government investigation October 11, 2019
Extends protections against all forms of discrimination in the workplace to all contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants, or others providing services; and against all forms of discriminatory harassment to domestic workers October 11, 2019
Prohibits mandatory arbitration to resolve cases of discrimination and harassment in the workplace October 11, 2019
Creates statutory claim for discriminatory harassment October 11, 2019
Expands the coverage of the NYSHRL to all employers in the state (used to only cover employers with four or more employees) February 8, 2020
Extends the statute of limitations for employment sexual harassment claims filed with the Division of Human Rights from one year to three years August 12, 2020

Many employers in New York City are already bound by the amendments to the NYSHRL, but they should still review their policies to conform to the amendments. Indeed, the NYSHRL now contains a different standard than the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) by having an employee show that she was subjected to “inferior terms, conditions or privileges of employment” because of the employee’s membership in a protected class, which varies from the “treated less well” standard under the NYCHRL. Indeed, an employee does now not need to identify others within the employer’s workforce as a comparator to the plaintiff.

Employers outside of New York City must now revamp their policies and procedures to comply with the NYSHRL and understand that all employers can now be liable for significant damages, regardless of the employer’s size.  For further information, please contact the Law Offices of Yale Pollack, P.C. at (516) 634-6340 or ypollack@yalepollacklaw.com.

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