New York Changes the Landscape of State Workplace Discrimination and Harassment Litigation

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed yesterday Senate Bill S6577/Assembly Bill 8421, a law that changes the landscape of workplace discrimination and harassment litigation in New York. The law applies to all New York employers and even addresses discrimination against independent contractors.

Among other significant changes highlighted in our update, the new law:

  • Removes the requirement that individuals prove that harassment was severe or pervasive
  • Opens the door for employers to be held liable in some cases where an individual did not complain of harassment
  • Lowers the standard to complaints that arise as a result of inferior terms, conditions or privileges of employment because employees are members of a protected class
  • Restricts the use of arbitration agreements
  • Prohibits the use of non-disclosure provisions that prevent employees from disclosing factual information concerning discrimination to certain individuals and entities
  • Permits the award of punitive damages in state discrimination and workplace harassment suits, and attorneys’ fees “shall” be awarded

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Compliments of Thompson Hine LLP, a member of the EACCNY