Sexual harassment in the workplace has been discussed often in recent years. In New York, it has had a direct impact on everyday life with politicians facing repercussions because of it and workers more willing to speak out. Still, the laws are somewhat muddled when it comes to worker protections. To address these gaps, lawmakers are moving forward with steps to help workers who might otherwise have been victims with few alternatives to stand up for their rights. It is useful to be aware of these new proposals as they are discussed, amended and may become law.
New laws pass in the New York State Senate and could help victims of harassment
In the aftermath of former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s resignation in part due to allegations of sexual harassment, the state Senate took steps to shore up the laws to help workers who claim to have been victimized. This is the second time in three years these laws have been strengthened.
The Let Survivors Speak Act would change how victims can speak out about sexual harassment in the workplace even if a financial settlement hinged on signing a non-disclosure agreement. In the past, workers were subject to paying damages for violating the agreement. The law would eliminate these agreements. A “No-Rehire” Ban – which prevented employers from rehiring people who alleged sexual harassment – will be removed from a settlement agreement. The statute of limitations for a harassment claim would be extended and instead of three years, it would be six years.
There would be an extension for workers to make a claim giving alleged victims three years instead of one year to allege discrimination with the Division of Human Rights. If an employee’s personnel records are released after they have claimed discrimination, it would subsequently be categorized as illegal. This would include claims of harassment. A hotline for sexual harassment complaints would be put in effect so people can make confidential reports of being victimized.
People facing workplace wrongdoing should have help navigating new laws
These proposed new laws are a direct response to the number of victims who have come forward and faced obstacles in having their cases heard and achieving justice. They may change the landscape for workers and give them more options to hold their employers accountable. Regardless of the level of mistreatment workers were confronted with whether it was harassment, discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination or any other violation, it is useful to have assistance with assessing the case and moving forward. To be protected, consulting with those experienced in employment law cases can be beneficial.