The NYS Legislature has passed sweeping changes to New York State Human Rights Law, the State’s discrimination law, that will make it easier for employees and outside contractors who interact with those employees to successfully bring discrimination claims. These claims involve, but are not limited to, sexual harassment, as well as discrimination based on race, gender, age, disability, ethnicity, familial status, pregnancy, etc. Similarly, it will have a significant impact on how employers manage their workplace.
The changes include eliminating size requirements for employers to be covered by Human Rights Law. It also broadens the application of hostile work environment to various forms of discrimination, such as based on race, gender, ethnicity, disability, age, etc., rather than only sexual harassment. Moreover, the legislature has eliminated the pervasiveness requirement as it relates to hostile work environment. Another significant change is eliminating the requirement that the employer have knowledge that the employee had been subjected to discrimination in order for liability to exist. Additionally, the legislature’s changes now make punitive damages available. It is critical to note that the significance of these changes cannot overstated.
Although the changes have not yet been signed into law by Governor Cuomo, the Governor has promised the laws will be signed immediately. Significantly, there are many other changes which will drastically effect the how New York State Human Rights cases are litigated moving forward. Employees and employers alike will be greatly impacted by these changes. If you have questions or concerns regarding these changes, or require legal counsel, call Gilbert Law Group today at (631) 630-0100.