Legal Analysts

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

Workplace Sexual Harassment Hotline about to be Established by NYS Division of Human Rights

On March 7, 2022, the NYS Senate joined the Assembly to pass a bill (now going to the Governor to be enacted), which establishes a hotline for complainants of workplace sexual harassment. 

The Bill's Justification explains that "[n]early 75% of all sexual harassment goes unreported," and it envisions that this toll-free hotline, available, "at minimum, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.," which will "connect complainants with experienced pro-bono attorneys who will help make them aware of their legal rights and advise them on the specifics of their individualized cases," will result in more reported claims. 

The issue with this STUPID Bill is two-fold:

  1. Who needs a toll-free line in 2022? Aren't we past the time when telephone companies charge per second of use? Don't most people utilize VoIP or cell phones? What decade is the NYS Government operating in? Have they heard of the world wide web? 
  2. Why are they referring to pro-bono (free) attorneys on a type of case where the plaintiff can recover their attorneys' fees from the plaintiff, by statute, and almost no plaintiffs pay their attorneys hourly fees? Sounds like a lipservice law to us, no?

Oh, to discourage attorneys from participating in this pro-bono stupid law, it also states that "Attorneys may not solicit, or permit employees or agents of the attorneys to solicit on the attorney's behalf, further representation of any individuals they advise through the hotline relating to discussed sexual harassment complaint." 

Once signed, this law will take effect on the 120th day thereafter and we doubt it will do a single thing to benefit victims because right now, any victim of workplace sexual harassment can and should already contact any attorney that they know of for a free consultation and if a claim is brought, the plaintiff can sue for the defendant to pay their attorneys' fees, as a matter of law.