On Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed several pieces of legislation that bolster New York’s growing workplace protections.

These laws will be implemented over the course of the next year. They will:

• Increase protections for employees who are members of protected classes as well as for those who have been sexually harassed;

• Prohibit nondisclosure agreements in discrimination cases, preventing employers from effectively silencing their employees;

• Prohibit mandatory arbitration provisions in discrimination cases, allowing employees to bring a claim and have it reviewed outside of their employer and potentially have their day in court;

• Require employers to give notice to employees regarding their sexual harassment prevention training programs in English and the employees’ primary languages, ensuring employees comprehend available resources;

• Extend the statute of limitations to three years for claims resulting from unlawful or discriminatory practices constituting sexual harassment;

• Require review and update of the model sexual harassment prevention guidance document and sexual harassment prevention policy; and

• Eliminate the strict “severe or pervasive” standard required to show that sexual harassment occurred;

• Eliminate the employer’s affirmative defense to avoid liability (requiring employees to follow the proper procedure for addressing a sexual harassment claim or else be prevented from moving forward with a claim);

• Broaden New York’s law to cover all employers of the state;

• Allow for punitive damages and attorney’s fees in employment discrimination cases; and

• Direct the commission of labor to run a study on strengthening sexual harassment prevention laws.

• Prohibit nondisclosure agreements from barring the disclosure of facts surrounding the discrimination case to particular parties.

Check out our recent blogs covering changes to New York laws and stay tuned for more:

Updates to the New York anti-harassment and anti-discrimination laws

New York City releases guidance on race discrimination on the basis of hair

Sweeping sexual harassment laws in New York