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Governor Cuomo Signs Bill Updating the New York State Human Rights Law

On Monday, Governor Cuomo signed into the law the last of four bills aimed at strengthening workplace protections for employees.  In mid-July, the Governor signed pay equity, salary history disclosure and hair discrimination laws into effect.  Now, the Governor has completed this effort by signing into the law a bill that makes significant changes to the New York Human Rights Law.  A summary of the new law and its implications for employers can be found here.  We blogged about the pay equity and salary disclosure laws here and here.  Finally, we summarize below the various effective dates of the provisions contained in these new laws.

 

Law

Description

Effective Date

NYSHRL

Prohibits discrimination based on natural hair or hairstyles

July 12, 2019

NYSHRL

Requires liberal interpretation of the law regardless of how similarly-worded Federal laws have been construed, along with narrow interpretation of the law’s exceptions and exemptions. 

August 12, 2019

NYSHRL

Increases the notice and distribution requirements of sexual harassment policies and training materials

August 12, 2019

NYSHRL

Creates statutory cause of action for discriminatory harassment

October 11, 2019

NYSHRL

Sets lower standard for proving discriminatory harassment

October 11, 2019

NYSHRL

Eliminates corrective Action (“Faragher-Ellerth”) Affirmative Defense

October 11, 2019

NYSHRL

Provides that non-employees may recover for any type of discrimination

October 11, 2019

NYSHRL

Allows Claimants to recover punitive damages and attorneys’ fees awards against private employers

October 11, 2019

NYSHRL

Prohibits employers from including broad non-disclosure provisions in settlement/separation agreements resolving any discrimination claim (unless preferred by plaintiff)

October 11, 2019

NYSHRL

Prohibits employers from requiring individuals to arbitrate discrimination claims.  (But note that this may be preempted by the FAA)

October 11, 2019

NYSHRL

Lengthens the statute of limitations for sexual harassment claims with the New York State Division of Human Rights to 3 years (previously 1 year)

August 12, 2020

NYS Pay Equity Act

Expands protections to any protected class and sets new standard of proof  for “substantially similar work”

October 8, 2019

NYS Labor Law

Places restrictions on employer inquiry and subsequent use of applicant and employee wage and salary history information

January 6, 2020

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Authors

Michael S. Arnold

Member / Chair, Employment, Labor & Benefits Practice

Michael S. Arnold is an employment attorney at Mintz. He counsels clients on HR issues, defends management and senior executives, and guides companies through employment issues related to transactions. Michael is Chair of Mintz's Employment Litigation & Arbitration Practice.

Brie Kluytenaar

Associate

Brie Kluytenaar is a Mintz attorney who practices labor and employment law. She handles arbitrations, prepares witnesses, and counsels clients on legal strategies related to employment issues. Brie has represented clients in state and federal court as well as various administrative bodies.