March 19, 2019

March 18, 2019

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Governor Cuomo Proposes to Strengthen Protections Against Harassment In the Workplace

Building on progressive legislation passed last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a sweeping proposal to strengthen protections against harassment in the workplace. The four-part sexual assault and harassment safety reforms initiative, titled “TIME’S UP New York Safety Agenda,” is contained in the Governor’s 2019 Executive Budget, which was released on January 22, 2019. The safety reforms seek to prevent sexual harassment and assault from occurring while simultaneously enabling survivors to seek justice.

Currently, in order to prevail on a claim of sexual harassment/hostile work environment under the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”), a plaintiff must show that the “workplace is permeated with ‘discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult,’. . . that is ‘sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment.’”[1] Governor Cuomo has proposed to amend the NYSHRL to lower the “severe or pervasive” standard, although his proposal did not articulate the new standard that would take its place. Additionally, the proposal would amend existing legislation to require that all Non-Disclosure Agreements include specific language advising employees of their ability to file a complaint with a state or local agency and to testify or participate in a government investigation.  New York employers would also be required to conspicuously post a sexual harassment educational poster designed and distributed by the State Division of Human Rights. Cuomo further proposes eliminating the statute of limitations on rape claims.

The TIME’S UP New York Safety Agenda arose out of recommendations made by TIME’S UP, led by a coalition of women in New York, including actresses, activists, attorneys, and business executives.

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[1] Father Belle Community Ctr., Inc. v. New York State Div. of Human Rights, 221 A.D.2d 44 (4th Dep’t 1996), leave to appeal denied, 89 N.Y.2d 809 (1997).

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About this Author

Alkida Kacani, Epstein Becker Law Firm, Labor and Employment Attorney
Associate

ALKIDA KACANI is an Associate in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management and Litigation & Business Disputes practices, in the firm's Newark office. She concentrates her practice on employment and commercial litigation.

Ms. Kacani:

  • Represents clients in employment-related litigation on a broad array of matters, including claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, constructive discharge, and wage and hour litigation, concerning state and federal employment statutes

    ...
973-639-8287
Gregory Green, employers, employee discrimination, associate, Epstein Becker Green Law Firm
Associate

GREGORY D. GREEN is an Associate in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the Newark office of Epstein Becker Green.

Mr. Green:

  • Helps represent employers in disputes involving various matters, including employee discrimination, retaliation, and whistleblowing  claims, in state and federal courts
  • Assists in advising employers on employment practices and procedures, including employment policies, employments agreements, restrictive covenants, and handbooks
  • Provides guidance to employers on a variety of workplace issues, including workforce reductions, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and equal employment issues
973-639-8535