Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill sponsored by state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi on Monday that he says will enact sweeping changes in laws targeting workplace harassment.
“There has been an ongoing, persistent culture of sexual harassment, assault and discrimination in the workplace, and now it is time to act,” Cuomo said in a statement. “By ending the absurd legal standard that sexual harassment in the workplace needs to be ‘severe or pervasive,’ and making it easier for workplace harassment claims to be brought forward, we are sending a strong message that time is up on sexual harassment in the workplace, and setting the standard of equality for women.”
Biaggi’s bill, which will now become law, also would no longer allow workplace non-disclosure agreements to cover harassment or discrimination complaints. It also extends the statute of limitations for employment sexual harassment claims filed with the Division of Human Rights from one year to three.
The law also requires courts to interpret the law liberally regardless of any federal rollback of rights, among other features.
“With the signing of this legislation, employers across all sectors will be held accountable for addressing all forms of sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, and survivors will be given the necessary time to report complaints and seek the justice they deserve,” Biaggi said, in a statement.
“Today, New York stands as a beacon of hope for survivors across the country as we usher a movement into law, and take one step forward towards building a harassment-free New York for all.”
The new law also will prohibit employers from pushing mandatory arbitration to resolve discrimination and harassment cases in the workplace, and will force a governmental review of sexual harassment policies in the state every four years.
“In 2018, a group of former legislative staffers came forward to demand justice for the years of sexual harassment they endured at the hands of powerful lawmakers and state agencies,” Biaggi said. “Today we are taking that power and putting it in the hands of survivors and working people of New York.”