New sexual harassment laws offer greater protection to victims

New York State has enacted laws designed to combat sexual harassment. Back in 2018, New York enacted some expansive sexual harassment laws.

In August 2019, Governor Cuomo signed into law a bill that is designed to strengthen the anti-sexual harassment laws that are already on the books. These laws will also reinforce anti-sexual assault and anti-discrimination legislation. The laws enacted in 2019 put more responsibilities on private employers to protect their employees from sexual harassment.

Some of these additions or enhancements of the law took effect in 2019. Others will become effective as of 2020. Some of these changes include applying New York State’s Human Rights Law to all employers. This change will take effect as of Feb. 8, 2020.

In October 2019, a number of aspects of this law began to take effect. For example, anti-harassment laws were expanded to include non-employees of a business providing services in the workplace. If a business hires an independent contractor and the contractor either engages in or experiences sexual harassment while there, the owner of the business may have some liability.

In that same month, a facet of the law took effect that allows people to recover attorney fees and punitive damages if there was a successful NYSHRL claim. Before October 2019, many settlement agreements for discrimination claims had a nondisclosure provision. If the victim was going to be compensated for the harassment they experienced, they had to promise not to talk about it with anyone. Now, it is illegal for discrimination claims to be dependent on the victim signing a nondisclosure document unless it is the complainant who wants confidentiality.

When a person is a victim of sexual harassment, especially in the workplace, it can have long-lasting effects. An attorney may help a client who was the victim of sexual harassment to receive the compensation they are due. The attorney may serve as a safe sounding board for their client, allowing them to explain the situation they faced and receive sound advice on how to go about handling the situation.

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