The New NY Anti-Sexual Harassment Law: What Employers Should Know
Additional New York State anti-sexual harassment law protections came into existence in August 2019.
Under the new law, sexual harassment only has to rise above the level of “petty slights or trivial inconveniences,” which is a much lesser burden of proof. This change will make it much easier for victims to come forward and file a lawsuit against employers. By comparison, under the previous law, the plaintiff would have to prove that sexual harassment was “severe or pervasive.”
When Does the New Law Go into Effect? Read More
Who Does the New Law Affect and How? Read More
How Do the Changes Affect Employment Agreements? Read More
How Are All Individuals in the Workplace Protected?
The new law extends protection beyond private company or government employees and offers protection to the following people in the workplace:
- Other individuals providing services pursuant to contract
- An employee of such a contractor (contractor, subcontractor, vendor, consultant or other person providing services)
How Does the New Law Affect an Employer’s Liability and Responsibilities?
All employers will need to investigate complaints and take corrective action or face liability for the failure to do so.
The extent of the employer’s control over the harasser in cases involving non-employees is also a consideration when reviewing the case.
In addition, all state contractors when submitting bids for work most also submit certification that written policy addressing sexual harassment prevention in the workplace has been implemented. Contractors must also show that all employees receive annual sexual harassment training.
(References: New York State Bar Association article, New York Post)
Stephen Hans & Associates assists employers in complying with employment laws and represents them in employment disputes.
Protecting Your Legal Rights in Car Accidents Claims
You may have heard people say that everyone will be in a car accident at some point in their lives. While this statement is a generality and isn’t literally true for everyone, there are statistics that make it likely. Chances are, based on statistics, that most people will experience a car accident, whether a fender bender or a full on crash.
Quoting from Forbes, car insurance industry estimates show that the average driver is in a car accident once every 17.9 years. The article goes on to point out that if you got your driver’s license at age 16, when you reach the age of 34, you will have been in a car accident. Esurance.com reports that 77 percent of U.S. drivers have experienced at least one accident, yet the average driver will experience three or four accidents during a lifetime.
Also noteworthy are the statistics that 10 million vehicle accidents occur in the U.S. every year, and this includes everything from parking lot dings and scratches to major collisions on the freeway.
Legal Protection for Serious Car Accidents
While the insurance sales representative may seem like your best friend, other insurance personnel work to save the company money. Car insurance companies hire teams of adjusters, private investigators, accident analysts and lawyers to build strong cases to protect their bottom lines. Denying a claim or paying a claimant as little as possible is a common strategy for driving profits.
However, the fact remains, that insurance companies want to avoid going to trial because litigation is expensive. Whenever possible they vie for an out-of-court settlement. Another tactic is to push for a settlement too quickly before the full extent of damages is known.
If you are injured and medical bills are mounting up, the idea of a quick settlement may appeal to you. This may or may not be to your advantage. With an experienced attorney on your side, you can have a knowledgeable advocate during settlement negotiations. You also have professional who knows how to get you the most compensation.
If you have been in a serious car crash and the other driver was at fault, get legal help. Lawyers offer free consultations to determine whether you have a case. Cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, which means you owe nothing unless the attorney succeeds through settlement or verdict.
Safety Tips from OSHA to Avoid Falling from a Ladder
Falls from ladders are the leading cause of death in the construction industry.
In fact, according to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), close to one-third of construction site deaths result from falls from ladders.
Furthermore, it is the employer’s responsibility to train workers and provide a safe work environment for them.
Safety Precautions: Knowing When and When Not to Use a Ladder
Ladders and stepladders are not always the best option for work. Using a ladder is not a good idea when:
- Holding onto heavy items
- Working from the height for a long time
- Elevation for work would make a long ladder unstable
- You have to stand sideways on the ladder to do the job
Under these circumstances, a scissor lift or a platform stepladder (platform with handrail barricades on the side) would be safer than a ladder.
Other Safety Tips to Avoid Falls from Ladders
Here are some other safety guidelines to follow:
- Make sure the ladder is high enough to reach the area. (Do not stand on the top ladder rung.)
- Extend the ladder and secure it three feet above the landing point of the next level for a safe handhold.
- Secure the base of the ladder.
- Wear non-slip, flat boots or shoes.
- Place the ladder on even, stable ground.
- Ensure full extension of the ladder before working.
- Put barriers or cones around the ladder to prevent passersby from walking near or under the ladder.
- Do not carry tools or materials while climbing the ladder.
- Keep your weight centered between side rails and do not lean out from the ladder while working.
- If using a ladder near a doorway, ensure you lock the door.
Whenever falls from ladders cause serious injury, it is wise to consult with an accident attorney to find out about recovering compensation. The State of New York has stringent laws that can protect your rights in a construction accident case.
August 23, 2019 UPDATE
Governor Cuomo, on August 12, 2019, signed into law Assembly Bill A8421, which significantly expands New York State sexual harassment and discrimination laws. These changes are in addition to the significant legislation that New York enacted in 2018 that were originally reported by The Van De Water Law Firm. This article details the revised and most timely deadlines and requirements under New York State and New York City sexual harassment training laws.
New York Sexual Harassment Training Deadline of October 9, 2019
By October 9, 2019, employers must provide sexual harassment training to all employees located in New York State. Thereafter and upon an ongoing basis, all employers must provide sexual harassment training to all employees each year. Both court decisions and numerous regulations in New York State have made it clear for years that all employers should provide harassment prevention training. Now it’s the law!
The New York State law:
- Applies to all employers, regardless of their size, who employ anyone in the state of New York.
- Applies to all employees, not just supervisors.
- Requires that the training is provided annually.
- Applies to all contractors who bid on New York State contracts.
The NYC law, entitled the “Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act,” applies to all employers with 15 or more employees, and requires annual sexual harassment training for all employees. Mandatory compliance with that law began on April 1, 2019.
As a matter of course, both the New York State and New York City laws detail specific content that must be addressed in the training. While New York State training content requirements are similar to content requirements in other states, New York City’s law goes beyond the training content that previously has been required in other jurisdictions. For example, the training provided to employees in New York City must:
- Address bystander intervention
- Describe the complaint process available through the NYC Commission on Human Rights, the New York State Division of Human Rights, and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and provide employees with those agencies’ contact information
The two tables below detail the obligations and the differences between the New York State and New York City laws regarding:
- Training Requirements (Table 1)
- Training Content (Table 2)
Bottom of Form
Sexual Harassment Training Obligations in New York State Read More:
Harassment Training Content Requirements in New York State and NYC: Read More
**Quoting Chart from Clear Law Institute, New York State and New York City Sexual Harassment Training Laws Michael Johnson, J.D., CEO, Clear Law Institute, August 12, 2019
Required Distribution in Writing of Anti-Harassment Policy and Information Presented in the Employer’s Training Program
According to the 2019 New York State legislation, employers must now provide employees in New York with written notice at the time of their hire and during annual sexual harassment training. The notice must include (1) the employer’s sexual harassment prevention policy and (2) the information presented in the employer’s sexual harassment prevention training program.
Employers must provide the required information in English and in the language identified by each employee as his or her primary language.
The state will publish a model policy in languages other than English (depending on the prevalence of each language in the state). New York employers are not required to provide their policy in another language if the state has not published a template in that language. This requirement to provide notice at the time of hire and during annual training goes into effect immediately upon enactment on August 12, 2019. Read More
Most employers likely will turn to a third party with expertise in training on sexual harassment prevention, such as The Van De Water Law Firm. Indeed, the New York City law explicitly states that its model training is designed to be a minimum threshold. Many employers will likely and should in fact turn to expert providers of sexual harassment training: Read More
As always, we at The Van De Water Law Firm are your local resource for all your Company’s sexual harassment questions and provide detailed and fully compliant sexual harassment training that strictly complies with both the New York State and City requirements. Call now for a free evaluation and consultation at (631)923-1314, or email us at Chris@VDWLawFirm.com. You can also visit us on the web.
Important Reasons for Employers to Avoid Retaliation
Retaliation in the workplace is unlawful. Therefore, as a business owner it is important to understand what it is and to avoid it. Employers violate the law if they retaliate against an employee who has engaged in “protected activity” under the New York City Human Rights Law or forbidden activities under the Law.
What Does Retaliation Mean?
“Retaliation” in a legal sense refers to “punishment of an employee by an employer for engaging in legally protected activity such as making a complaint of harassment or participating in workplace investigations. Retaliation can include any negative job action, such as demotion, discipline, firing, salary reduction or job or shift assignment.”
Examples of protected activity include:
- Filing a formal written complaint about discrimination (within the company through its management or Human Resources or with any anti-discrimination agency)
- Testifying or assisting in a Human Rights Law proceeding regarding discrimination
- Making a verbal or informal discrimination complaint to management
- Making a complaint that another employee has been subjected to discrimination
- Encouraging another employee to report an occurrence of discrimination
Even when the employee has left the company, if the employer provides an unreasonable negative reference about the former employee, such behavior can fall under retaliation. However, the employee would have to show that the negative reference was based on retaliation.
Potential Penalties for Retaliation
Under New York Law, the New York State Department of Labor can assess potential penalties for retaliation, including:
- Penalties ranging from $1,000 to $20,000
- An order to pay lost compensation to the employee
- An order to pay liquidated damages
If a New York court finds an employer guilty of retaliation it can impose the following:
Reinstatement of the employer to the former position
- Restoration of seniority
- Payment of lost compensation
- Damages of up to $20,000 per employee
- Payment of reasonable attorney’s fees
At Stephen Hans & Associates, we help employers comply with employment laws, avoid retaliation, offer legal advice and represent them in employment issues.