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Recent Updates in New York Employment Law

Recently, New York State and New York City enacted numerous updates to statutes which apply to the workplace. With all of these important changes, employers in New York State and New York City should be aware of how their workplace policies are affected, as should workers whose rights are impacted. This list links to numerous State and City resources for employers and employees. Note, this list is comprehensive, but not exhaustive.

Thank you to Law Clerk Emily Entwistle for compiling this list. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding these laws.

Update

Number of Employees

Required Posting or Policy

Effective Date

New York State Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination based on natural hair or hairstyles. N.Y. Exec. Law § 292(37), (38).

This provision covers all employers with four or more employees (until February 8, 2020).  

 

This law went into effect upon enactment on July 12, 2019.

New York amends the Human Rights Law to prohibit discrimination against an employee based on clothing or facial hair worn in accordance with the requirements of the employee’s religion. 2019 N.Y. SB 4037.

This provision covers all employers with four or more employees (until February 20, 2020).

 

This law goes into effect on October 8, 2019.

New York State enacted a law that prohibits employers from inquiring into the salary or wage histories of applicants or employees. 2019 N.Y. SB 6549.

This provision applies to all private employers.

 

This law goes into effect on January 6, 2020.

New York State amends the Human Rights Law to expand protections to domestic workers and non-employees. 2019 N.Y. SB 6577.

This provision covers all employers with four or more employees (until February 8, 2020).

 

This provision goes into effect on October 11, 2019.

New York State amends the Human Rights Law to require employers to provide sexual harassment prevention policy and the information presented at their sexual harassment prevention training programs in multiple languages. 2019 N.Y. SB 6577.

This provision applies to all employers in New York, and parallels the New York City Human Rights Law provision already in effect.

Employers must provide the required information in English and in the primary language identified by each employee at the time of hire and during annual training.

This notice requirement went into effect immediately upon enactment on August 12, 2019.

New York State amends the Human Rights Law to remove the affirmative defense used by employers, who could escape liability if an employee did not report the harassment, called the “Faragher-Ellerth” defense. 2019 N.Y. SB 6577.

This provision applies to all employers in New York.

 

This provision goes into effect on October 11, 2019

New York State amends the Human Rights Law to lower the standard for proving discriminatory harassment from “severe or pervasive” to conduct above the level of petty slights or trivial inconveniences.  2019 N.Y. SB 6577.

This provision applies to all employers with four or more employees (until February 8, 2020), except in the case of sexual harassment, which applies to all employers in New York.

 

This provision goes into effect on October 11, 2019

New York State amends the Human Rights Law to allow claimants to recover attorneys’ fees and punitive damages. 2019 N.Y. SB 6577.

This provision applies to all employers with four or more employees (until February 8, 2020), except when applied to a sexual harassment claim, which applies to all employers in New York.

 

This provision goes into effect on October 11, 2019

New York State amends the Human Rights Law to prohibit the use of non-disclosure agreements for all discrimination claims, unless it is the claimant’s preference. 2019 N.Y. SB 6577.

This provision applies to all employers with four or more employees (until February 8, 2020), except in the case of sexual harassment, there is a one employee minimum, so every employer is covered.

 

This provision goes into effect on October 11, 2019

New York State amends the Human Rights Law to prohibit the use of mandatory arbitration clauses for all discrimination and retaliation claims. 2019 N.Y. SB 6577.

This provision applies to all employers with four or more employees (until February 8, 2020), except in the case of sexual harassment, there is a one employee minimum, so every employer is covered.

 

This provision goes into effect on October 11, 2019

New York State amends the Human Rights Law to expand the statute of limitations for sexual harassment claims filed with the New York State Division of Human rights from 1 year to 3 years. 2019 N.Y. SB 6577.

This provision applies to all employers in New York.

 

The new statute of limitations goes into effect on August 12, 2020.

New York City amends its Human Rights Law to prohibit employers from testing job applicants for marijuana. NYC Administrative Code 8-107, subd. 31.

This law applies to all employers in NYC with four or more employees.

 

This law goes into effect on May 10, 2020.

New York amends its election law to allow registered voters to take up to three hours off without loss of pay to vote in any election.  N.Y. Elec. Law § 3-110.

This law applies to every employer in New York.

 

Not less than ten working days before every election, employers shall post a notice conspicuously in the workplace until the close of polls on election day.

This law went into effect upon enactment on April 12, 2019.

New York City Commission on Human Rights issued a guidance indicating that the New York City Human Rights Law protects an employee’s right to maintain natural hair or hairstyles. Legal Enforcement Guidance on Race Discrimination on the Basis of Hair.

 

This law applies to all employers in NYC with four or more employees.

 

Guidance was issued on February 18, 2019.

New York amends the State Human Rights Law to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression.  N.Y. Exec. Law §§ 292296.

This provision covers all employers with four or more employees (until February 8, 2020).

 

This law went into effect on February 24, 2019.

The New York City Human Rights Law was amended to include sexual and reproductive health decisions as a protected class. NYC Administrative Code § 8-107.

 

This law applies to all employers in NYC with four or more employees.

 

This law went into effect on May 20, 2019.

New York City expanded on the already existing State requirements to provide a lactation room to employees who express milk for up to three years following child birth.

This applies to employers in NYC with four or more employees.

Employers must meet minimum requirements for the room. Employers must also create a written policy alerting employees about the existence of the room, which also needs to meet stated minimum standards.

This law went into effect on March 17, 2019.

New York City amended the Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law, now the Earned Safe and Sick Time Act, to require employers to allow employees to use earned leave for safe leave purposes. Under the law, covered employees have the right to use safe and sick leave for the care and treatment of themselves or a family member and to seek assistance or take other safety measures if the employee or a family member may be the victim of domestic violence, unwanted sexual contact, stalking, or human trafficking.

Employers with five or more employees, who work 80+ hours a calendar year, must provide up to 40 hours of paid leave per year. Employers with four employees or less, who work 80+ hours per year, must provide up to 40 hours of unpaid leave.

Employers must provide each employee with a written notice of the employee’s right to safe and sick leave in English and, if available, their primary language.

This law went into effect on May 5, 2018.