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New York State Enacts Sweeping Legislation to Combat Workplace Sexual Harassment (April 2018)

On April 12, 2018, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law as part of the New York State budget several bills designed to combat workplace sexual harassment. The new laws were part of the Governor’s Women’s Agenda and a response to the issues and concerns raised by the #MeToo movement. Among other things, the new laws will:

 - Require employers to adopt and distribute a written policy prohibiting sexual harassment and implement annual sexual harassment prevention training for all employees;

 - Extend the protections of the New York Human Rights Law against sexual harassment to “nonemployee” service providers, including contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants and others providing services pursuant to a contract; 

 - Bar mandatory arbitration clauses for workplace sexual harassment claims;

 - Prohibit nondisclosure clauses in any settlement or agreement relating to a claim of sexual harassment, unless it is the preference of the complainant to include such a clause;

 - Require that state contractors bidding on contracts requiring competitive bidding certify that they have in place a sexual harassment policy and provide annual employee training; and

 - Require public employees to reimburse their public employer for the employee’s proportionate amount of any judgment the public employer is required to pay that is related to a claim of sexual harassment for which the employee is adjudged liable.

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