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New York plans for changes to employment law to stop harassment

| May 31, 2019 | Employment Law for Employers |

New York employers should be cognizant of the potential changes that might stem from greater attention being paid to worker complaints. While sexual harassment is currently the most commonly discussed issue with regard to problematic workplaces, there are many other issues that should be considered, each of which can have serious ramifications for employers and employees. Employers could be at greater risk of being sued for employment law violations, so it is wise to keep track of them and have advice from a qualified law firm experienced in helping employers protect their interests.

This help may be especially helpful if newly proposed laws go into effect. The new set of laws has been proposed to stop harassment and better protect worker rights. There are 10 bills to do so. Sex discrimination would be prohibited with the passage of one law. That same law would prevent employers from discriminating against employees for national origin and gender. The severe and pervasive standard is also up for change. As it stands now, the law says that some acts, like touching a person without permission and other perceived “harmless” acts, do not meet this standard. With the new law, that would change.

Those aren’t the only proposed changes, though. It is often a concern that non-employees can commit sexual harassment and be free of repercussions. A new law would force employers to handle such behavior if a non-employee commits sexual harassment against an employee. Sexual harassment would be categorized as discrimination if one proposed bill is passed. Since discrimination covers many areas of employment law, sexual harassment would be part of that. With the extended complaint statute, workers would have more than the current amount of time – one year – to file a complaint. The proposal is to extend that timeframe to three years.

Confidentiality agreements could be changed, too. Since these agreements frequently remove various victim rights, the new law would implement a waiver so that an employee understands what is being surrendered. In a similar vein as confidentiality agreements, employers would no longer be able to misuse a non-disclosure agreement to keep a whistleblowing employee silent, among other improvements.

Since employers can face extended legal issues because of employee complaints, these changes are consequential to them. If they are put in place, it is vital to grasp them and how they can impact a business and its work environment. Not every employee claim is valid, though, which is why having legal representation from a law firm specializing in employment law for employers is often imperative to protect an employer’s best interests.