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New York State Legislature Passes “Game-Changing” Bill Extending Workplace Discrimination and Harass

Last year, New York State passed legislation that dramatically increased the legal protections against sexual harassment, including requiring all employers to adopt a sexual harassment policy and implement annual sexual harassment training for all employees. Late last week, the Democratic-controlled New York State Legislature passed a bill containing several even more sweeping laws further extending protections against not only sexual harassment, but also against all forms of discrimination and harassment in the workplace. If signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, as is expected, these new laws will alter the legal landscape of employment discrimination and harassment in New York on a scale not seen in recent memory. The new laws would amend the New York State Human Rights Law (“Human Rights Law”) and other laws to establish some of the strongest protections in the country for combating employment discrimination and harassment. The most significant changes would increase the number of employers covered by the Human Rights Law, make it easier for employees to prove harassment, allow successful plaintiffs to recover attorneys’ fees and punitive damages, and extend to three years the time individuals have to file a charge of sexual harassment with the New York State Division of Human Rights (“Division”). This alert provides an overview of the changes for employers so they can be prepared for these new laws.

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