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New York City Enacts Statute Aimed At Halting Sexual Harassment At Work

  • By: David Rich
  • Published: May 14, 2018
New York City Enacts Statute Aimed At Halting Sexual Harassment At Work

On May 9, 2018, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed, into law, the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act, Local Laws 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 9798, 99, 100, 101 and 102 (the “NYCSSHA” or the “Act”), a group of eleven bills intended to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Among other things, the Act requires most nongovernmental employers in New York City to conduct annual anti-sexual harassment training for all employees, including supervisory and managerial employees, beginning April 1, 2019.

On April 11, 2018, the New York City Council (the “Council”) had passed ten of the eleven bills comprising the Act by unanimous votes of 50-0.  Also on April 11, the Council had approved the eleventh bill included in the Act, Local Law 96 of 2018, by a vote of 48-2.

The NYCSSHA amends, among other statutes, the New York City Human Rights Law, N.Y. City Admin. Code §§ 8-101 – 8-131 (the “NYCHRL” or the “City Human Rights Law”).

Among the Act’s mandates are the following:

Conspicuous Posting, on the New York City Commission on Human Rights’ Website, of Online Resources about Sexual Harassment (Local Law 94 of 2018)

Local Law 94 of 2018 (“Local Law 94”) requires the New York City Commission on Human Rights (the “NYCCHR” or the “Commission”) to conspicuously post, on its website, online resources about sexual harassment, including, among other things: an explanation that sexual harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination under local law; specific descriptions and examples of activities which may be sexual harassment; a description of the Commission’s complaint process, and how to contact the Commission; an explanation that retaliation, including but not limited to retaliation for complaints concerning allegations of sexual harassment, is prohibited by section 7(7) of the NYCHRL, N.Y. City Admin. Code §§ 8-107(7), and examples of activities which may be retaliation for such complaints; and an interactive tool describing each step of the complaint process available through the Commission, from when a complaint is filed to when a determination is made on such complaint.

Local Law 94 will take effect on August 7, 2018.

Notice, By Employers To Workers, of Anti-Sexual Harassment Rights and Responsibilities (Local Law 95 of 2018)

Local Law 95 of 2018 (“Local Law 95”) compels all employers in New York City, effective September 6, 2018, to conspicuously display an anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities poster, to be designed by the NYCCHR, in worker break rooms or other common areas where workers gather.  Every employer, at a minimum, must display this poster in English and in Spanish.

Further, Local Law 95 dictates that all employers in New York City must distribute to each employee, at the time of hire, an information sheet, to be designed by the Commission, on sexual harassment.  The information sheet may be included in employers’ employee handbooks.  Employers must make these information sheets available in English, in Spanish, and in any other language that the Commission deems appropriate.

Conducting, by Nongovernmental Employers, of Mandatory Anti-Sexual Harassment Training (Local Law 96 of 2018)

Effective April 1, 2019, Local Law 96 of 2018 (“Local Law 96”) requires every nongovernmental employer with fifteen (15) or more employees to annually conduct an anti-sexual harassment “interactive training” for all employees, including supervisory and managerial employees, of the employer who are employed within New York City.  Each employee of a covered employer who works more than 80 hours in a calendar year must undergo this anti-sexual harassment training within 90 days after he or she is hired.

For purposes of Local Law 96, the term ” ’employee’ ” includes interns.

As used in Local Law 96 of 2018, the term ” ‘interactive training’ ” means participatory teaching in which the trainee is engaged in a trainer-trainee interaction, use of audio-visuals, computer or online training program or other participatory forms of training as determined by the NYCCHR.  However, the bill does not require that this “interactive training” be live or facilitated by an in-person instructor.

The anti-sexual harassment training which covered employers must conduct must include, among other information:

  • An explanation that sexual harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination under New York City law, New York State law, and federal law;
  • A description of what sexual harassment is, using examples;
  • Any internal complaint process available to employees through their employer to address sexual harassment claims;
  • The complaint process available through the NYCCHR, the New York State Division of Human Rights and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”), including contact information;
  • That retaliation is prohibited by section 7(7) of the NYCHRL, and examples of retaliation; and
  • The specific responsibilities of supervisory and managerial employees in the prevention of sexual harassment and retaliation, and measures that such employees may take to appropriately address sexual harassment complaints.

Local Law 96 requires the Commission to create an online interactive training module, to be posted on the Commission’s website, that employers may use to satisfy the bill’s training mandate.

Rendering Employers with Fewer Than Four Workers Liable for Sexual Harassment (Local Law 98 of 2018)

The New York City Human Rights Law generally applies to employers with four or more employees.  Local Law 98 of 2018 (“Local Law 98″) amends the NYCHRL to provide that in an action under section 7(1) of the NYCHRL, N.Y. C. Admin. Code § 8-107(1), for unlawful discriminatory practice based on a claim of gender-based harassment, the term ” ’employer’ ” includes any employer, including those employing fewer than four individuals.  In other words, Local Law 98 renders all employers in New York City, including those with only one to three employees, liable for employees’ sexual harassment claims.

Local Law 98 of 2018 takes effect immediately.

Extending, from One Year To Three Years, the Statute of Limitation for Filing, with the City Commission on Human Rights, Sexual Harassment Claims (Local Law 100 of 2018)

The New York City Human Rights Law generally authorizes any individual aggrieved by a discriminatory practice rendered unlawful by the NYCHRL or by an act of discriminatory harassment or violence to either (i), within three years after the unlawful discriminatory practice or act of discriminatory harassment or violence occurred, file a civil action in a court of law or (ii), within one year after the unlawful discriminatory practice or act of discriminatory harassment or violence occurred, file an administrative proceeding with the City Commission on Human Rights.

Effective immediately, Local Law 100 of 2018 (“Local Law 100”) extends, from one year to three years after the allegedly harassing conduct occurred, the time within which an aggrieved individual may file, with the NYCCHR, an administrative proceeding over a claim of gender-based harassment.

In other words, Local Law 100 provides that, in either a lawsuit in court or an administrative proceeding before the NYCCHR, the statute of limitation for filing sexual harassment claims is three years.

If your company needs assistance or guidance on a labor and employment law issue and your company is located in the New York City area, call Attorney David S. Rich at (347) 941-0760.

David Rich

About the Author David S. Rich is the founding member of the Law Offices of David S. Rich, LLC,
a New York Employment and Business Litigation Law Firm, in New
York City and in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey...Read more