New York City Council Enacts Package of Bills to Combat Sexual Harassment
On Wednesday April 11, 2018, the New York City Council enacted a package of eleven bills, collectively titled the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act (the “Act”). The Act awaits final signature from the Mayor. Introduced to the New York City Council just one month ago, the Act was likely inspired by the #metoo movement and includes five sections that will directly affect private employers in New York. These sections include:
extending the statute of limitations for filing gender-based harassment claims under the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) from one year to three years. This section is set to take effect immediately;
amending the NYCHRL prohibition on gender-based harassment to apply to all employers rather than only to employers with four or more employees. This section is set to take effect immediately;
clarifying that sexual harassment is a form of discrimination under the NYCHRL. This section is set to take effect immediately;
requiring all private employers with fifteen or more employees (including interns) to conduct annual anti-sexual harassment trainings for all employees and interns. New employees and interns expected to work more than eighty hours per calendar year must complete such training within ninety days of hire. Employers will also be required to keep training records and signed employee acknowledgments for at least three years. This section also requires that the New York City Commission on Human Rights (“NYCCHR”) create online training tools for such employer trainings. This section is set to take effect on April 1, 2019; and
requiring that the NYCCHR create a new anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities poster and mandating that all employers display the new poster in a conspicuous place and provide the information to employees at the time of hire. This section is set to take effect 120 days after the Act becomes law.
The Act also includes a resolution calling upon the U.S. Congress to pass a law prohibiting pre-dispute arbitration agreements from requiring the arbitration of sex discrimination disputes.
The Act’s proposed changes to New York City’s current discrimination and harassment laws and procedures are likely to increase the number of such claims filed with the NYCCHR. If signed into law, New York employers should prepare for such increases and alter their practices accordingly.