The new amendment to the New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law § 296, requires the creation of a toll-free, state-wide, confidential hotline for complaints of workplace sexual harassment. This new hotline was announced on July 19, 2022 but was signed by New York Governor Kathy Hochul in March of 2022. Employees receive free legal counseling regarding complaints of workplace sexual harassment by calling the hotline, which operates during regular business hours. It is staffed by attorneys for the New York State Division of Human Rights, and the New York State Bar Association, the National Employment Lawyers Association of New York, and other bar associations will work closely with the New York State Division of Human Rights to recruit volunteer pro bono attorneys to help. Information on the hotline should be included in materials employers must post or provide regarding sexual harassment to employees.
Governor Hochul noted that New York took this action to make workplaces safer, more collaborative, and more respectful, because every worker deserves access to resources that will protect them from sexual harassment. Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado also states that the hotline helps to provide survivors of workplace sexual harassment with clear access to help and legal assistance.
Division staff provide a caller with information regarding how to file sexual harassment complaints with the agency once a call is received. Calls may be received Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. If interested, callers are able to discuss their case with an attorney, and the hotline will provide them with then name and contact information of the attorney. All attorneys are experienced in providing legal counsel related to workplace sexual harassment. These referrals do not replace the New York State Division of Human Rights’ normal complaint procedures but instead supplement them. This new law forbids the attorneys from soliciting further representation of any individuals whom they counsel; they are only able to provide advice on the Hotline.
Employers first should review all handbooks and materials to ensure that this new New York State Human Rights Law Hotline telephone number is included. All sexual harassment materials, including policies, employee handbooks, and other postings that are provided to employees must be updated immediately. While additional guidance from the New York State Department of Labor is expected in the future, for the time being, employers should work with legal counsel to stay up to date on any related guidance, including guidance regarding posting requirements.
Clear Law will continue to monitor developments regarding the implementation of the new laws on workplace sexual harassment and any related new guidance.
Consistent with all current EEOC guidelines and court decisions in New York state and all 50 states, Clear Law’s interactive, online harassment training covers not just sexual harassment, but all forms of workplace harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.
The online course is fully customizable; each organization can include its logo, workplace images, introductory messages, and the company’s unique policies and procedures for preventing and addressing workplace discrimination.
Learn more about Clear Law Institute’s full suite of online sexual harassment training. Clear Law Institute is also proud to offer harassment prevention compliance packages, which include required policies, notices, and postings for each jurisdiction in which employers operate. If you have any questions about the laws, please contact us at 703-372-0550 or at [email protected].
This article is for information purposes only. Its contents do not constitute legal advice and readers should not regard this article as a substitute for detailed advice in individual instances
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