LIEB BLOG

Legal Media Analysts

Showing posts with label sexual harassment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sexual harassment. Show all posts

Monday, August 29, 2022

DC Law Now Requires Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training for Tipped Wage Workers

Washington DC now has mandatory sexual harassment trainings from a 2018 law, the Tipped Wage Workers Fairness Amendment Act.


Under the law, covered employers’ primary obligations include providing mandatory sexual harassment training to both business operators & tipped employees.


Other obligations require covered employers to report to the DC Office of Human Rights (OHR) both their sexual harassment policy & all harassment complaints made to management from 2020 on. All requirements are set forth in OHR’s fact sheet on employee rights, which must be posted at places of employment. 


OHR has created a portal for employers to report their compliance with the mandates of the Act & employers will be watched - so tread carefully. 


If you were harassed or discriminated against, this law & its trainings are not the end of the story. You have a claim under Title VII & other federal & state laws. Know your rights & act because statutes of limitations, including a filing requirement with EEOC might otherwise curtail your rights. This is serious & damages can be outrageous.  

 



Thursday, March 31, 2022

Stop Sexual Assault and Harassment in Transportation Act Passes the House

The Stop Sexual Assault and Harassment in Transportation Act passed the House on March 30, 2022 and now makes its way to the senate. 


If passed, the Act will require airlines, railroads, vessels, buses, and transit entities (e.g., Uber / Lyft) to establish "a formal policy with respect to transportation sexual assault or harassment incidents" together with appropriate trainings. 


It is specifically designed to notice, warn, prevent, and combat sexual assault and harassment by the public and staff making transportation safe for all involved. 


The Act establishes civil penalties against harassers starting at $35,000. 


Shouldn't it be safe to travel and shouldn't it be safe to work in transit?




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.




 


Friday, March 04, 2022

Sexual Harassment & Assault Claims can be Brought by victims as Class Actions in Court

Victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault can now proceed in a class action, with other victims, and can also litigate their case in court, individually or collectively, regardless of having previously executed an arbitration agreement. 


This is really important because powerful companies have traditionally forced their employees and independent contractors to sign predispute joint-action waivers, which prevent victims from bringing joint, class, or collective actions against those companies for sexual harassment and sexual assault. The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 invalidated such waivers. Now, victims can work collectively and take on powerful companies in court in the same way that a union equalizes employee bargaining power at the proverbial negotiating table.


The Act also invalidates mandatory arbitration agreements, which heavily favor companies who regularly pay the same arbitrators, know their rules, have relationships, and win a vast majority of the time.


To learn more about this new law, here is an audio recording of my appearance on The Jay Oliver Show explaining the importance of the law right after it was passed by the Senate. To be clear, the recording misstates the law's effectiveness to past claims. The law only applies to claims that "arise[] or accrue[] on or after the date of enactment," which was March 2, 2022. 





 

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Expect New Federal Sex Discrimination Laws & Regulations by the End of 2021

Monday, December 28, 2020

Employment Sexual Harassment - Case of Interest - Exceeding Petty Slights or Trivial Inconveniences

Back on October 11, 2019, the NYS Human Rights Law was modified with a new standard for actionable employment sex discrimination. The new standard was intended to align NYS more closely with the NYC Human Rights Law. 


The new standard is that conduct that exceeds "petty slights or trivial inconveniences" is actionable. 


As to what that means, the NYC law was interpreted by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (Federal Court) in Mihalik v. Credit Agricole Cheuvreux North America, Inc., which is the leading case. 


Now, we have a leading case interpreting the NYS law as well by a State Court. 


On December 15, 2020, the NYS Appellate Division decided Franco v Hyatt Corp. and found the following allegations to constitute conduct that exceeds petty slights or trivial inconveniences:

  1. Supervisor made repeated sexual advances towards him, including reaching out to touch his face and holding his hand in an elevator while they were alone.
  2. Supervisor also initiated conversations that made him uncomfortable, telling him she had a "crush" on him, telling him she was single and twice inviting him to her home to repair "a hole" in her apartment. 
  3. Supervisor said she had a tattoo, adding that "You have to undress me to see it." 
  4. After victim rebuffed advances, supervisor brought him to the Human Resources manager's office to complain about his work product and that she solicited complaints about him from other coworkers.
Interestingly, this case involved a female harasser of a male subordinate. 

When we train the NYS / NYC Mandatory Sexual Harassment Prevention Course to companies around the country, at sexualharassmenttrainingny.com, we always get push back to the concept that sexual harassment can be female on male. This case is a good reminder that everyone is protected from harassment at work. 





 

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Employers May be Exposed to a Sex Discrimination Lawsuit From...an Alleged Harasser?

In this “Me Too” era, it is logical that an employer’s reflexive reaction to receiving a complaint of harassment from a female employee is to immediately fire the alleged male harasser. However, while the employer may believe that firing the male employee will protect the employer from a lawsuit by the female employee, such impulsive action without a thorough unbiased investigation may expose the employer to a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by . . . the alleged male perpetrator. 

Read the full article by Mordy Yankovich, Esq. published in the Suffolk Lawyer here. 


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Real Tips HR: Can Employers Fire an Employee Accused of Sexual Harassment?

In this #metoo movement, employers must know how to react when an employee gets accused of sexual harassment. Can employers just fire someone on the spot? Andrew Lieb and Mordy Yankovich explain the answer in this short clip.


Friday, October 11, 2019

Protections for Victims of Harassment are Effective Today.

The following provisions of the recently passed New York State law which provide additional protections for victims of harassment/discrimination based on any protected class (sex, race, religion, etc.) go into effect today: 

1)  As of today, the high "severe and pervasive" standard for establishing claims of harassment no longer applies. Rather, any conduct, including isolated incidents, that merely rises above "petty slights" or "trivial inconveniences" may be considered harassment.

2) Whether or not an employee filed an internal complaint prior to filing a lawsuit is no longer determinative of an employer's liability.

3) Non-employees (contractors, vendors, etc.) can now bring claims of harassment against companies based on any protected class.

4) Non-disclosure provisions in agreements settling harassment claims are prohibited unless it is the employee's preference.

5) Mandatory arbitration of harassment claims based on any protected class is now prohibited.

Employers should ensure that these new provisions are included in their annual harassment prevention training.


Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Can Employers Discriminate Against Employees Based on Their Sexual Orientation or Status as Transgender? The Supreme Court to Weigh-In.

The Supreme Court of the United States is hearing oral arguments on three high profile cases today which will have a significant impact on LGBTQ rights in the workplace.

In the first two cases, Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia and Altitude Express, Inc.v. Zarda, the justices will determine whether Federal law prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. (Federal law generally prohibits discrimination based on "sex"). In the third case, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the justices will determine whether employment discrimination against transgender people violates Federal law.

The decisions on both of these issues - which will likely be released in early 2020 - will be of great interest to both employers and employees.



Monday, September 09, 2019

Deadline = 1 Month: Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

Attention all employers / HR managers - you have 1 month left to complete your sexual harassment prevention training of all employees as required by Labor Law 201-g.

Failure to train = misdemeanor and exposure to lots of fines by the DOL.

Get your employees trained at sexualharassmenttrainingny.com


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Status as a Victim of Domestic Violence is Now a Protected Class in New York State

Attention Employers in New York State: Governor Cuomo signed bill S1040 into law extending protections against discrimination in the workplace to victims of domestic violence.

The new law prohibits an employer from hiring or firing an employee or otherwise discriminating against an employee in compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment because of such employee's status as a victim of domestic violence. The law also requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodations to an employee who is known by the employer to be a victim of domestic violence, unless providing an accommodation would cause an "undue hardship" to the employer.

Reasonable accommodations for victims of domestic violence are limited to: seeking medical attention; obtaining services from a domestic violence shelter, program or rape crisis center; obtaining psychological counseling or legal services; and, taking safety measures to increase protections against future incidents of domestic violence (e.g. relocation). Time off as a result of such accommodation may be charged against the employee's paid time-off (per law and/or employer's policy). If paid time off is unavailable, an employer may treat such absence as leave without pay.

Employers should immediately update their handbooks, policies, and discrimination prevention trainings to comply with this new law.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Have you been the victim of employment discrimination?

Attention Employees - Have you faced inferior terms, conditions or privileges of employment because of your age, race, creed, color, national original, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, familial status, marital status, domestic violence victim status, or because you have opposed discrimination at work?

Did you know that you only need to prove that this discrimination rises above what a reasonable victim of discrimination with the same protected characteristic would consider petty slights or trivial inconveniences to win your claim?

Did you know that you can recover lost wages?
Are you aware that you can be reinstated into your job?
Better yet, did you know that your employer could be required to pay you punitive damages (punishment)?

Guess what? Courts have been directed to award you reasonable attorney's fees if you win. This means that your employer's exposure goes up the entire time that they are defending the claim - it's a huge motivation for your employer to settle with you quickly.

Yesterday, 8/12/19, you were given a voice by the Governor - it's time for you to use that voice and speak up to end discrimination in the workplace.


Monday, August 12, 2019

Alert: CT Reduces Threshold for Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training

Effective October 1, 2019, Employers in Connecticut have new sexual harassment prevention obligations.

By way of Public Act No. 19-16, which amends General Statutes 46a-54(1)(15), now employers, with three or more employees, must:

  • Within three months of start date, provide information concerning illegality of sexual harassment and remedies available by email or posting;
  • Provide two hours of training and education between October 1, 2019 and 2020; and
  • Provide such training to new hires within six months of start date.
Then, employers must provide periodic supplementain traings and updates not less than every ten years. 

The new training requirement is for all employees rather than just supervisors employees, as previously required, and it's applicable to employers with three or more employees rather than the previous fifty employee requirement.

 

Alert: Cuomo Makes it Easier for Workplace Sexual Harassment Claims

Attention Employers and HR!!!!

Cuomo signs sexual harassment law- as we first reported on June 19, 2019, A08421 passed both houses and now Cuomo has made it the law of the State of New York.

The legislation does the following:
  • Changes the severe or pervasive standard of harassment to a very low standard of more than petty slights or trivial inconveniences;
  • Eliminates part of the Faragher/Ellerth affirmative defense to a lawsuit by making the fact that the employee did not make a complaint about the harassment to the employer not determinative as to liability;
  • Extends protection for non-employees in the workplace to all protected classes;
  • Allows courts to award attorney's fees on all claims of employment discrimination, and allow for punitive damages in employment discrimination cases against private employers;
  • Provide that the Human Rights Law is to be construed liberally for remedial purposes, regardless of how federal laws have been construed;
  • Prohibit mandatory arbitration clauses for discrimination claims;
  • Prohibit non-disclosure agreements in any settlement for a claim of discrimination, unless it's the complainant's preference;
  • Provide that any term or condition in a non-disclosure agreement is void if it prohibits the complainant from initiating or participating in an agency investigation or disclosing facts necessary to receive public benefits;
  • Require that employees be notified that non-disclosure agreements in employment contracts cannot prevent them from talking to the police, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the State Division of Human Rights or a similar local entity, or a lawyer;
  • Extend the authority of the Attorney General to prosecute certain civil and criminal cases of discrimination against all protected classes;
  • Require the Department of Labor and the Division of Human Rights to evaluate the impact of the model sexual harassment prevention policy every four years and update the policy as needed;
  • Require any term or condition in a non-disclosure agreement be provided in writing to all parties, in plain English and the primary language of the complainant;
  • Require the commissioner of the Labor Department to prepare templates of the model policy in languages other than English;
  • Require every employer to provide employees with their sexual harassment policy in English or their primary language when they are hired and during training; and
  • Extend the statute of limitations to file a sexual harassment complaint with the Division of Human Rights from one year to three years.

Visit discriminationpreventiontraining.com to keep your company safe from discrimination claims while maintaining a safe workplace for all.



Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Real Tips HR: New Discrimination Standard in NYS Coming Soon

Jokes which previously did not rise to the level for discrimination in the State of New York because they weren't pervasive may now qualify for a claim. Learn how even non-employees can bring suit for being offended by sex jokes. It's time to get your sexual harassment training today at www.discriminationpreventiontraining.com


Thursday, June 20, 2019

Harassment Law Game Changer - HR's Sample Notice to Employees

Attention Business Owners and HR

Lieb Compliance has solved your immediate need to protect your company against the new NYS Workplace Harassment Standard - see below.

Alert: Workplace harassment / discrimination standard reduced to permit claims for acts only rising above "petty slights" or "trivial inconveniences."

Act Now: You must act swiftly to advise your teams that absolutely no conversations, pictures or actions will be allowed that are related to anyone's demographics (age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, familial status, marital status, domestic violence victim status, and religion)

To Do: Send this email to your team NOW!

"To Our Team:

As you are aware, this company firmly believes that discrimination and harassment is contrary to the values we promote in the workplace and is detrimental to our success as a company. With the passing of new laws in New York State strengthening anti-discrimination and anti-harassment protections, we are taking this opportunity to reiterate our zero tolerance policy to harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Any acts or comments that you may think are trivial inconveniences or petty slights, but may be perceived by an employee to be based on or related to his or her demographics (i.e., age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, familial status, marital status, domestic violence victim status, and religion) will not be tolerated.

You are our "first line of defense" and must take proactive roles in ensuring that our work environment remains free of discrimination and harassment. If  you think an employee may perceive a comment or act - even if it is isolated - to be related to his or her demographics, you should refrain from making such comment or taking such action. In addition, if you witness such conduct or are informed that such conduct occurred, you should immediately report the conduct to your boss, manager, HR team or business owner. Upon receiving your report, an investigation will be conducted promptly and any and all corrective action will ensue.

We are currently in the process of updating our formal policies and workplace discrimination trainings in light of the new law and we anticipate circulating such policies and conducting updated training for all employees in the near future. If you have any questions related to our anti-discrimination or anti-harassment policy you are encouraged to contact your boss or HR. Thank you for your continued partnership in keeping our workplace void of discrimination and harassment.

Again, we need you to keep our workplace free from harassment and discrimination."

Note: This is sample language meant to be a general notice to be distributed to employees in the workplace and is not intended to address any specific situations in the workplace. Any such situations or questions should be directed to employment counsel.

Visit discriminationpreventiontraining.com to keep your company safe from discrimination claims while maintaining a safe workplace for all.


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Breaking News - Workplace Anti-Discrimination Laws Updated in NYS

Attention Employers and HR!!!!

A08421 has passed both houses and is headed to the Governor to change discrimination laws in NYS forever.

The legislation does the following:

  • Changes the severe or pervasive standard of harassment to a very low standard of more than petty slights or trivial inconveniences;
  • Eliminates part of the Faragher/Ellerth affirmative defense to a lawsuit by making the fact that the employee did not make a complaint about the harassment to the employer not determinative as to liability;
  • Extends protection for non-employees in the workplace to all protected classes;
  • Allows courts to award attorney's fees on all claims of employment discrimination, and allow for punitive damages in employment discrimination cases against private employers;
  • Provide that the Human Rights Law is to be construed liberally for remedial purposes, regardless of how federal laws have been construed;
  • Prohibit mandatory arbitration clauses for discrimination claims;
  • Prohibit non-disclosure agreements in any settlement for a claim of discrimination, unless it's the complainant's preference;
  • Provide that any term or condition in a non-disclosure agreement is void if it prohibits the complainant from initiating or participating in an agency investigation or disclosing facts necessary to receive public benefits;
  • Require that employees be notified that non-disclosure agreements in employment contracts cannot prevent them from talking to the police, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the State Division of Human Rights or a similar local entity, or a lawyer;
  • Extend the authority of the Attorney General to prosecute certain civil and criminal cases of discrimination against all protected classes;
  • Require the Department of Labor and the Division of Human Rights to evaluate the impact of the model sexual harassment prevention policy every four years and update the policy as needed;
  • Require any term or condition in a non-disclosure agreement be provided in writing to all parties, in plain English and the primary language of the complainant;
  • Require the commissioner of the Labor Department to prepare templates of the model policy in languages other than English;
  • Require every employer to provide employees with their sexual harassment policy in English or their primary language when they are hired and during training; and
  • Extend the statute of limitations to file a sexual harassment complaint with the Division of Human Rights from one year to three years.

Visit discriminationpreventiontraining.com to keep your company safe from discrimination claims while maintaining a safe workplace for all.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Sexual Harassment Complaints up 62% since 2016

According to the NYS Division of Human Rights, in legislative testimony provided earlier this month, sexual harassment complaints made to the Division have increased 62% since 2016.

Plus, this gigantic increase in complaints occurred before every employee in the State received training as to their rights when either being a victim of sexual harassment or being retaliated against for attempting to stop harassment.

Remember - every employer must train their employees before October 9, 2019 per Labor Law 201-g.

Failure to train is a misdemeanor and will be the kiss of death when trying to defend the company against a complaint of sex discrimination.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Employers - Watch out for Sexual Harassment Training Vendors Claiming to Be Compliant When They Are Not - Here is What You Need To Know

Employers who are seeking to purchase sexual harassment prevention training and policies in compliance with the new New York State and New York City sexual harassment laws must be mindful that some vendors are offering trainings that are not compliant with the new laws.

The New York State law (Section 201-g of the N.Y. Labor Law), which took effect on October 9, 2018, requires that all employers issue a sexual harassment prevention policy that meet minimum requirements including but not limited to establishing a procedure, specifically tailored to each individual employer, for timely investigation of all complaints and issuing a complaint form. 

Therefore - if a company is claiming they can offer a uniform training for any employee to take - be mindful that employers must have a sexual harassment prevention policy and complaint form that specifically shows the employee how to make a complaint and whom to make a complaint to and the information must be including in the training. In the NYS model training, it states: "The training should detail any internal process employees are encouraged to use to complain and include the contact information for the specific name(s) and office(s) with which employees alleging harassment should file their complaints."

The NYS law also requires annual training for all employees (and training for new employees within a reasonable time after hiring). The training must be interactive and must include; 1) an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor; 2) examples of conduct that constitute unlawful harassment; 3) information regarding the specific state and federal statutory provision concerning sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment; 4) information regarding employees' rights of redress and remedies available to victims; 5) information regarding conduct responsibilities of supervisors.

The New York City law (Local Law 96), effective April 1, 2019, requires employers with fifteen (15) or more employees to conduct annual training which must be interactive and must include, among other requirements, the employer's specific process for addressing sexual harassment complaints, information concerning bystander intervention and the specific responsibilities of managers and supervisors to address complaints of harassment. In addition, the NYC law requires that employers obtained signed acknowledgment from employees that they attended the training.

While not required, policies and trainings should also address other forms of harassment and discrimination (i.e. race and age), to minimize exposure to potential lawsuits against the employer.

It is imperative that employers choose a vendor who is offering trainings and policies in strict compliance to these new laws to avoid unnecessary penalties and exposure to lawsuits.

Lieb Compliance offers a fully compliant training package including a compliant sexual harassment prevention policy, complaint form and interactive training.