By Brian S. Kaplan, Daniel Turinsky &  Edward Rooker

One year after enacting sweeping legislation targeting sexual harassment, the New York State Legislature capped off its 2019 legislative session by passing a flurry of laws aimed at keeping New York State at the forefront when it comes to preventing all forms of discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The new legislation builds on the 2018 anti-sexual harassment legislation by amending the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) to, among other things, (a) lower the burden of proof for complainants to bring workplace harassment claims; (b) broaden the definition of a covered employer under the NYSHRL; (c) expand the coverage of the statute to apply to non-employees, such as contractors and vendors; (d) extend the applicable statute of limitations period; and (e) provide for the recovery of punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. The bottom line for employers is that proactively preventing discrimination and harassment in the workplace must be an ongoing priority and current policies and procedures will need to be reevaluated to address the heightened risk associated with such conduct.

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