No more mandatory, private arbitration of NY sexual harassment cases

By Jack Tuckner, Esq.

In my last video, I spoke about the new revised New York State Human Rights Law, and how it now covers independent contractors, or consultants, or vendors who are being sexually harassed. If you work for any employer in New York, you no longer need to be a W-2 employee; you could be a 1099er, a consultant, and still be covered when you find yourself in a position where you’re sexually harassed or working in a hostile work environment due to who you are as a woman, or as a man.

That same law was revised to now also preclude, prohibit your employer from requiring mandatory arbitration in sexual harassment cases, which is also really big news. This part of the revised New York State Human Rights Law becomes effective in July 2018. Independent contractors are now covered as of April 2018. But why this is also really big news is that federal law, the federal Arbitration Act, case law interpreting it – permits employers to require employees who are starting a job as a condition of that employment to accept the notion that you give up your right to a jury trial, you give up your right to hold your employer accountable in court in a public forum for free when, if and when, you’re being discriminated against.

But now New York says, no, you can’t do that in sexual harassment cases. So that will put so much more pressure on your employer, whether you’re still working and being subjected to sexual harassment, and want some justice, and need to teach your employer a lesson, and try to work out a settlement and a separation, or whether you’ve already been fired and are threatening an action against your employer – your ability to say that New York law doesn’t permit you to seek private justice out of the public forum will give you way more negotiating power. And that’s great news for working women being subjected to sexual harassment in New York.