New York already has some of the toughest laws in the nation to stop sexual harassment. But it still happens, and it still needs to be reported.
To help this process, some new laws came into effect on Jul 11 and more are coming this September. They all help New York fight sexual harassment in every workplace.
What has taken effect
The new laws which have already come into force specifically target the ways in which victims of sexual harassment have been silenced. That is not tolerated any longer in New York.
The first of these is NY CPLR Section 7515, which changes how employers have to deal with sexual harassment. It is no longer legal to have in an employment contract any clause which requires claims of sexual harassment to go to arbitration. They can now be taken directly to court or o the city Division of Human Rights.
The second is a state law, Section 5-536, which prohibits non-disclosure as part of any settlement in a sexual harassment lawsuit. This is important, because it has always been difficult to identify companies with a history of covering up harassment. It is going to become much easier to establish a pattern of abuse at any company that allows it with this new law.
More is coming
Starting in September, the New York City Commission on Human Rights will have available a poster advising all employees of their rights to a harassment-free workplace. It will be required to be “conspicuously displayed," meaning that no one can claim that they were unaware of the law.
This October the state will also require all employers to have a policy in their employee manual and to annually brief all employees on that policy.
What this means for you
If your employer is not following any of these new laws, it’s important to take action. These are all important steps towards ending sexual harassment once and for all in New York.
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual harassment at work, it’s important to know that no one has to take it. If you are unsure of your rights, contact an attorney with experience in sexual harassment litigation. There is a limited time to file in many cases, so it’s important to act quickly.