How New York’s New Sexual Harassment Law May Increase Litigation

by | Jun 26, 2018 | Blog Posts

Against the backdrop of high-profile sexual harassment claims and the #MeToo movement, New York recently enacted significant changes to its sexual harassment laws. Those provisions are likely to result in additional litigation as new lawsuits are brought against employers and fewer complaints are settled by arbitration or negotiation.

Briefly, the law provides the following:

  • Employers must have a written sexual harassment policy that meets certain requirements.
  • Employers must provide annual sexual harassment training that meets certain requirements.
  • Sexual harassment claims cannot be the subject of mandatory arbitration clauses in employment contracts.
  • Nondisclosure agreements as part of a sexual harassment claim settlement are not enforceable unless it’s the complainant’s preference.
  • Sexual harassment protections extend towards a non-employee who is a contractor, sub-contractor, vendor, consultant or other person providing services pursuant to a contract in the workplace.

How some of the law’s provisions will be implemented, how they will be enforced, and what penalties will be imposed is unclear. Those are important concerns because without strict enforcement or significant penalties, employers may not comply. The Department of Labor is supposed to provide more guidance and details about the law presumably before employers must comply with the majority of its requirements. Many of the requirements don’t go into effect until October 9th. However, the prohibitions on mandatory arbitration agreements and confidentiality requirements go into effect July 11th. In addition, sexual harassment protection for contractors and others goes into effect immediately.

The restrictions on arbitration and nondisclosure agreements may result in more cases being litigated and possibly fewer settlements. That means cases will take longer to resolve. That can be a heavy burden on both plaintiffs and law firms who work on a contingency fee basis.

Waiting several years for a settlement leaves law firm’s vulnerable and some may need to turn down cases that will take a long time to resolve because they cannot afford to wait for payment. That’s bad for lawyers and clients. At RapidFunds, we are former litigators and are happy to support the good work of law firms who help end discriminatory practices. We provide post-settlement funding to plaintiff firms, which means we buy a portion of a firm’s legal fee from settled cases, so firms can get the cash they need to run their practice.

To learn more about how post-settlement funding can help your firm, visit RapidFunds® Frequently Asked Questions page or contact Sherry Foley, Esq. at sfoley@rapidfunds.com for more information.