United States: New York State Enacts Further Protections Against Harassment & Discrimination

Last Updated: August 5 2019
Article by Joshua Zuckerberg and LaKeisha M.A. Caton

The New York State Legislature has passed new legislation expanding the State's anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws, which Governor Cuomo is expected to sign imminently. These new laws further broaden employees' protections against harassment and discrimination in the workplace and place new requirements on all employers in New York State as summarized below. Most of the new legislation mirrors laws already in effect in New York City so New York City employers will not be impacted as significantly as employers outside of the City.

Application of the New York State Human Rights Law to All Employers

As amended by the new legislation, the New York State Human Rights Law will cover employers of all sizes, not just employers with four or more employees, effective 180 days after the new laws are enacted.

Distribution of Anti-Harassment Policies

Effective immediately upon enactment of the new laws, New York State employers will be required to provide employees at the time of hire and at every annual sexual harassment prevention training with a notice containing the employer's sexual harassment policy and the information presented at the employer's sexual harassment prevention training program. Moreover, the New York State Human Rights Law will be construed liberally, even when such construction would diverge from that of federal civil rights laws, in order to maximize deterrence of discriminatory conduct.

Expansion of Protections to Non-Employees and Lower Burden of Proof

Effective 60 days after enactment of the new laws, the protections provided by the New York State Human Rights Law will apply to domestic workers and non-employees, including contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants, and persons who are providing services pursuant to a contract in the workplace (collectively, "Non-Employees"), and individuals who are employed by Non-Employees. The burden of proof under the New York State Human Rights Law will also be lowered so that employees asserting a claim for harassment thereunder will no longer have to show that the alleged harassment was severe or pervasive; nor will employees have to show that they were treated less favorably than a comparator (i.e., a similarly situated individual outside of the protected category). Mirroring the New York City Human Rights law, New York State law will now require that employees just show that they were treated less well than other employees because of their protected status and that the alleged harassment rises above the level of petty slights and trivial inconveniences.

Punitive Damages and Attorneys' Fees

Similarly, New York State law will follow New York City law in making punitive damages available as a remedy for employees and preventing employers from using the fact that an employee did not utilize the employer's internal complaint or reporting procedure as a defense to the employee's claim of harassment. Even though an employee's failure to take advantage of an employer's reporting procedure is not a defense to a harassment claim, employers can use that failure to mitigate the amount of damages recoverable under New York City law. Furthermore, employees who bring claims against their employers under the New York State Human Rights Law and prevail will be entitled to attorneys' fees, which is a remedy already available under the New York City Human Rights Law. Prevailing employers, on the other hand, will only be awarded attorneys' fees if they show that the action brought by the employee was frivolous. These changes will take effect 60 days after enactment of the new laws.

Mandatory Arbitration Prohibited

While New York State enacted legislation last year which prohibits mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment claims, this prohibition will be expanded to all claims of discrimination based on a protected characteristic (such as race, religion, disability, etc.) effective 60 days after enactment of the new laws. However, this prohibition is likely to be challenged as being preempted by federal law. Indeed, a federal judge in New York City recently held that an agreement to arbitrate sexual harassment claims is enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act despite New York law prohibiting mandatory arbitration agreements covering sexual harassment claims.1

Limitations Regarding Nondisclosure Agreements

Similarly, New York State also previously limited the use of nondisclosure agreements or provisions ("NDAs") in cases involving sexual harassment, and pursuant to the new laws, employers will be prohibited from including NDAs in any settlement of a claim involving any type of discrimination unless the condition of confidentiality is the employee's preference. If confidentiality is the complainant's preference, then an NDA regarding the claim must be written in plain English and, if applicable, in the primary language of the complainant. The complainant then must have 21 days to consider the NDA before signing the document, and a waiting period of at least seven days during which the employee may revoke their agreement to the NDA after they sign. This requirement goes into effect 60 days after enactment of the new laws.

Furthermore, beginning January 1, 2020, NDAs that are part of an employment contract and that prevent an employee from disclosing information related to any future claim of discrimination must include an explicit carve-out providing that the employee is not prohibited from speaking with law enforcement, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the New York State Division of Human Rights, a local commission on human rights, or an attorney retained by the employee.

Statute of Limitations for Sexual Harassment Claims

Effective one year after the new laws are enacted, the statute of limitations for employees to bring a claim of sexual harassment under State law before the New York State Division of Human Rights will be three years.


To ensure compliance with these new laws, New York employers should review and revise their employee manuals and their standard employment, separation, and settlement agreements, including any arbitration or nondisclosure provisions therein. Please feel free to reach out to Pryor Cashman with any questions or for guidance.

1 Latif v. Morgan Stanley & Co., LLC, No. 18 CV 11528 (DLC), 2019 WL 2610985 (S.D.N.Y. June 26, 2019).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions