New York State Says #TimesUp on Sexual Harassment in its 2019 Budget Bill

Showing a strong response to the nationwide #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the New York State legislature recently passed the “New York State Budget Bill for Fiscal Year 2019” (S-7848A), signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on April 12, 2018, which enacts several new protections against sexual harassment in the workplace.

Some of the key changes enacted in the budget law are:

  1. The New York State Human Rights law is expanded, to make it an unlawful discriminatory practice “for an employer to permit sexual harassment of non-employees in its workplace.” (New York State Budget FY19, Part KK, Subpart F.) This means the protections against sexual harassment in the workplace under the New York State Human Rights Law that only applied to traditional employees are now extended to non-employees, including vendors, consultants, contractors, and subcontractors. This provision is effective immediately.
  2.  New York State bans the use of mandatory arbitration clauses for claims of sexual harassment in the workplace, except where it is inconsistent with federal law or a collective bargaining agreement. (New York State Budget FY19, Part KK, Subpart B.) This provision is effective July 11, 2018.
  3. New York State bans nondisclosure provisions in agreements resolving claims in which the “factual foundation . . . involves sexual harassment,” unless the complainant wants to the nondisclosure provision. (New York State Budget FY19, Part KK, Subpart D.) This provision is effective July 11, 2018.
  4. New York State requires mandatory annual sexual harassment training. (New York State Budget FY19, Part KK, Subpart E.) This provision is effective October 9, 2018.
  5. New York State requires companies bidding for certain state and public contracts to include a statement in their bid confirming that they have implemented a written sexual harassment prevention policy and annual sexual harassment prevention training. (New York State Budget FY19, Part KK, Subpart A.)

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