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A08421 Summary:

BILL NOA08421
 
SAME ASSAME AS S06577
 
SPONSORSimotas
 
COSPNSRWright, Rozic, Titus, Crespo, Walker, Weinstein, Simon, Cruz, Nolan, Quart, Cook, Glick, Galef, Arroyo, Paulin, Lifton, Peoples-Stokes, Lupardo, Jaffee, Rosenthal L, Barrett, Fahy, Solages, Davila, Bichotte, Jean-Pierre, Joyner, Seawright, Woerner, Hunter, Hyndman, Richardson, De La Rosa, Dickens, Niou, Pheffer Amato, Williams, Fernandez, Frontus, Griffin, McMahon, Darling, Reyes, Romeo, Gottfried, Schimminger, Abbate, Aubry, Cahill, Englebright, Perry, Pretlow, Dinowitz, Colton, Magnarelli, Cymbrowitz, Rivera, Cusick, O'Donnell, Ramos, Benedetto, Lavine, Hevesi, Stirpe, Zebrowski, DenDekker, Miller MG, Thiele, Abinanti, Braunstein, Bronson, Rodriguez, Weprin, Ryan, Buchwald, Kim, Mosley, Otis, Steck, Pichardo, Blake, Barron, Barnwell, D'Urso, Jones, Vanel, Rosenthal D, Burke, Eichenstein, Epstein, Fall, Jacobson, Sayegh, DeStefano
 
MLTSPNSRLentol
 
Amd 292, 296, 296-b, 296-d, 297, 300 & 63, Exec L; amd 5-336, Gen Ob L; amd 7515 & 5003-b, CPLR; amd 201-g, Lab L
 
Provides increased protections for protected classes and special protections for employees who have been sexually harassed; prohibits nondisclosure agreements related to discrimination; prohibits mandatory arbitration clauses related to discrimination; requires employers to provide employees notice of their sexual harassment prevention training program in writing in English and in employees' primary languages; extends the statute of limitations for claims resulting from unlawful or discriminatory practices constituting sexual harassment to three years; requires review and update of the model sexual harassment prevention guidance document and sexual harassment prevention policy; and directs the commissioner of labor to conduct a study on strengthening sexual harassment prevention laws.
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A08421 Memo:

NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION
submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
 
BILL NUMBER: A8421
 
SPONSOR: Simotas
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the executive law, in relation to increased protections for protected classes and special protections for employees who have been sexually harassed; to amend the general obli- gations law, in relation to nondisclosure agreements; to amend the civil practice law and rules and the executive law, in relation to discrimi- nation; to amend the labor law, in relation to requiring employers to provide employees notice of their sexual harassment prevention training program in writing in English and in employees' primary languages; to amend the executive law, in relation to extending the statute of limita- tions for claim resulting from unlawful or discriminatory practices constituting sexual harassment to three years; to amend the labor law, in relation to the model sexual harassment prevention guidance document and sexual harassment prevention policy; and directing the commissioner of labor to conduct a study on strengthening sexual harassment prevention laws   PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: This bill increases protections to employees of all protected classes who have been subject to discriminatory harassment in the workplace.   SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 provides that the Human Rights Law covers all employers in the state, including the state and all political subdivisions thereof, for all forms of discrimination and harassment. Section 1-a This section further defines "private employer" to include any person, company, corporation, labor organization or association, and not any governmental entity. Section 2 extends protection to discriminatory and to retaliatory harassment based on all protected categories; eliminates the "severe or pervasive" standard from discriminatory and retaliatory harassment cases. This section also functions to eliminate part of the Faragher/Ellerth defense. Section 3 clarifies the basis for unlawful discriminatory harassment relating to domestic workers. Section 4 addresses circumstances under which employers are liable to non-employees in the workplace, and extends liability for all forms of unlawful discriminatory conduct. Section 5 extends punitive damages to employment discrimination actions, without limitation on the amount, to cases brought before the State Division of Human Rights. It also provides for punitive damages and provides for attorneys' fees to prevailing plaintiffs in all employment discrimination cases, not just those based on sex discrimination. Section 6 adds language to beginning of the Construction section to explain that the statute is to be construed liberally, regardless of how federal civil and human rights laws are construed. Section 7 prohibits mandatory arbitration clauses related to discrimi- nation. Section 8 prohibits non-disparagement provisions in employment contracts from preventing employees from disclosing factual information related to future claims of discrimination with law enforcement, enforcement agencies, or private counsel, and prohibits non-disclosure agreements from prohibiting the complainant from initiating, testifying, assisting, complying, or participating in an investigation conducted by any government agency, or disclosing facts necessary to receiving public benefits. Section 9 prohibits non-disclosure agreements from prohibiting the disclosure of the underlying facts and circumstances to the claim or action unless the condition of confidentiality is in the plaintiff's preference in all discrimination cases. Section 10 expands the powers of the Attorney General to prosecute cases of discrimination based on all protected classes. Section 11 provides that the Commissioner of Labor, in consultation with the Commissioner of Human Rights shall conduct a study that reviews the requirements for employers to provide a sexual harassment training and policy, the scope of workplace discrimination made unlawful by state and federal law, engagement with stakeholders on effective tools to remedi- ate workplace discrimination, and an analysis on the efficacy of requir- ing further training in reducing all forms of workplace discrimination. Section 12 requires employers to provide their employees with a notice containing their sexual harassment prevention policy and information presented at their sexual harassment prevention training program both in English and the employee's identified primary language. Section 13 extends the time frame within which victims of sexual harass- ment in the workplace must file administrative complaints with the Divi- sion of Human Rights from one year to three years. Section 14 requires that every four years the model sexual harassment prevention guidance document and sexual harassment policy will be reviewed and updated as necessary. Section 15 contains the severability clause of this legislation. Section 16 sets forth the effective date.   JUSTIFICATION: During the year 2017 sexual harassment became a national issue with dozens of high profile incidents finding the light of day and hundreds of protests sweeping the nation. As a result the "Me Too" movement and "Times Up" movement were formed to combat sexual harassment and discrim- ination it all of its ugly forms. It is more imperative than ever that the work of these movements continue and translate into actual policy and change. The time for complacency is no more. In 2018, the Legisla- ture enacted a number of measures to combat sexual harassment in the workplace, including mandating that all employers in New York State have a sexual harassment policy, employee training, and a clear complaint and investigation process. This legislation builds off of what was done in 2018 to enact further reforms for sexual harassment, and extends those protections to other protected classes in the employment context. In conjunction with the newly enacted legislation coming out of the Women's Equality Agenda budget items introduced in 2018, the passage and signage of this bill will bring the State up to speed with widely accepted reforms, such as eliminating the "severe or pervasive" standard applied to sexual harassment cases and harassment based on all protected catego- ries, longer statutes of limitations, attorney's fees and punitive damages for victims, and a medley of reforms to help disclose to employ- ees and victims their rights in the workplace and under State law. It is time for New York State law to abandon the protection of those who would discriminate and sexually harass in the workplace and recognize and serve victims of discrimination.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New bill.   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: To be determined   EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately, provided, however: Sections one of this act shall take effect on the one hundred eightieth day after it shall have become a law. Sections one-a, two, three, four, five, seven, eight and nine of this act shall take effect on the sixtieth day after it shall have become a law. Section thirteen of this act shall take effect one year after it shall have become a law. Sections one, one-a, two, three, four, five, six and thirteen shall only apply to claims filed under such sections on or after the effective date of such sections. Effective immediately, the addition, amendment and/or repeal of any rule or regulation necessary for the implementation of this act on its effective date are authorized and directed to be made and completed on or before such effective date.
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