Tagged: Sexual Harassment Policy

The Federal Speak Out Act and Implications for Employers

In December 2022, President Biden signed into law the Speak Out Act (the “Act”), which has become effective. As discussed below, the Act prohibits pre-dispute nondisclosure and nondisparagement agreements relating to sexual assault and sexual harassment disputes. In connection with the new law, Congress presented, inter alia, the following findings: Sexual harassment and assault continue to be pervasive in the workplace. 81 percent of women and 43 percent of men experience some type of sexual harassment or assault in their lifetime. One in three women has encountered sexual harassment in the workplace, yet an estimated 87 to 94 percent of those who have experienced harassment never file any type of formal complaint. Many women leave their job or industry or pass up advancement opportunities as a result of sexual harassment. To combat sexual harassment and assault, victims must be able to report and publicly disclose such issues. Nondisclosure and nondisparagement provisions in agreements between employers and employees can allow harassment and assault to continue by silencing victims and those with knowledge of the conduct, while protecting those engaging in such conduct, thus allowing it to continue. Prohibiting nondisclosure and nondisparagement clauses will provide transparency around unlawful conduct, allow victims to come forward, hold perpetuators accountable, and make workplaces safer. Explanation of the Act The Act...

UPDATE: Mandatory Nondiscrimination Policies, Training and Reporting: Proposed New Jersey Legislation Would Impose New Obligations on Employers and Lengthen the Limitations Period

On February 18, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy continued his quest to enhance employee protections in New Jersey by announcing proposed legislation aimed at strengthening New Jersey’s already-expansive prohibitions against harassment and discrimination in the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). According to the proposed legislative findings, the bill was designed to “reject the norms of yesterday that overlooked workplace harassment and discrimination as business as usual.” The proposed legislation comes on the heels of a report released by the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR) this month, Preventing and Eliminating Sexual Harassment in New Jersey, the result of a trio of public hearings held in September 2019. Employers are already scrambling to keep up with legislation directed at protecting call center employees, cracking down on misclassification, and expanding the rights of employees affected by a mass layoff or plant closing. Here are the highlights from the proposed legislation: Expanded Definition of Employee. Domestic workers and unpaid interns would be added to the definition of “employees” under the NJLAD and there are specific provisions governing domestic workers. Extended Time for Filing Claims. The current two-year statute of limitations applicable to claims brought under the NJLAD would be extended to three years. And, the time to file a complaint with the DCR would be extended from...

2019 Rings in Further Protections for Delaware and Philadelphia Employees

Before 2018 wrapped up, the year of the #MeToo movement, the Delaware and Philadelphia legislatures worked to ensure the passage of employee-friendly legislation. While Delaware’s new law focuses on sexual harassment,  Philadelphia has turned its focus on the work schedules for those employed in service industries. Delaware, like many other states in 2018, passed legislation to strengthen workplace harassment laws. The legislation was signed into law in August 2018, and went into effect on January 1, 2019. Delaware’s Discrimination in Employment Act has now been amended to include provisions specifically dedicated to sexual harassment that apply to employers with at least four employees in the state. It should be noted that Delaware’s law includes unpaid interns, applicants, joint employees and apprentices within its definition of employee. In addition to defining sexual harassment, the law provides that employers will be liable for sexual harassment if: (1) A supervisor’s sexual harassment results in a negative employment action of an employee; (2) The employer knew or should have known of a non-supervisory employee’s sexual harassment of an employee and failed to take appropriate corrective measures; or (3) A negative employment action is taken against an employee in retaliation for the employee filing a discrimination charge, participating in an investigation of sexual harassment, or testifying in any proceeding or...

New York Employers Fall Review

In 2018, employers in New York encountered several important changes, including in the areas of anti-harassment and scheduling, warranting a Fall review of current employment practices and preparation for next year’s developments. Employers should take the time now to review current practices and prepare for the imminent future. NEW YORK CITY’S TEMPORARY SCHEDULE CHANGE LAW New York City’s Temporary Schedule Change Law (“TSC Law”) became effective July 18, 2018, and requires private employers to provide eligible employees with an allowance of a “temporary change” to their usual work schedule for certain qualifying “personal events” for up to two occasions per year (i.e., one business day twice per year or two business days on one occasion). Eligible employees are those who work at least 80 hours a year in New York City and have been employed by their employer for 120 or more days, with limited exceptions, including employees covered by collective bargaining agreements waiving the law. Temporary schedule changes may include paid time off, use of short-term unpaid leave, permission to work remotely, or working hour swaps or shifts. Qualifying “personal events” include: (a) an employee’s need to: (i) care for a minor child or care recipient (i.e., a person with a disability who is a family or household member and relies on the employee...

New York City and New York State Pass Comprehensive Anti-Harassment Legislation

The New York City Council recently passed the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act (“NYC Act”), a series of bills that address sexual harassment prevention in the workplace. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the legislation into law in the near future. The passage of the NYC Act coincides with the signing of the 2018-2019 New York State Budget (“the Bill”), which includes comprehensive and significant changes to State anti-harassment laws described as “necessary to combat sexual harassment in the workplace.” STOP SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN NYC ACT Mandatory Anti-Harassment Training The NYC Act would require employers (with 15 or more employees including interns) to conduct annual anti-sexual harassment training beginning on April 1, 2019 for all employees, including supervisors and managers. The training is required for all employees who work more than 80 hours in a calendar year and for new employees within 90 days of hire. The training must cover a range of topics, including a statement that harassment is a form of discrimination under state and federal law; a description of sexual harassment (including examples of what constitutes harassment); internal complaint procedures for an employee to make a harassment complaint; information about the complaint process under local, state, and federal law (including agency contact information); prohibitions on retaliation; information about bystander...

Legal Issues to Consider as Intern Season Approaches

With summer around the corner, it is a good time for a refresher on legal implications when hiring interns. Specifically, when must interns be paid and what other legal protections do interns have? Wage and Hour Issues – As has been widely publicized in recent years, a number of companies who utilize unpaid interns have found themselves the object of lawsuits. It is thus important for companies to make an informed decision on the compensation issue before the hiring process begins.

NLRB Ruling is Problematic for Employer Workplace Investigation Policies

The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) decided that an employer’s workplace investigations policy, which recommends employees keep an internal investigation confidential, violated the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) because it interfered with employees’ rights to communicate regarding matters affecting terms and conditions of employment. The ruling creates a quandary for employers to maintain effective workplace investigation policies and practices including confidentiality statements in anti-harassment policies.

New Jersey Appellate Division Decision Stresses Importance of Meaningful Anti-Harassment Policy and Training

An effective anti-harassment policy has long been recognized as a key component to an employer’s avoidance of liability for allegations of sexual, racial, or other harassment under New Jersey law. The New Jersey Appellate Division in Dunkley v. S. Coraluzzo Petroleum Transporters recently reinforced this fact, and the decision provides a helpful reminder to employers that adopting clear anti-harassment policies, providing regular training to its workforce, and immediately addressing allegations of harassment/discrimination once presented, are important factors that may help them avoid liability for the conduct of employees who violate such policies.

Crucial Issues in Investigations

Does your company conduct internal investigations? If so, you should be asking yourself these four crucial questions: Is the right person conducting the investigation? Is the investigation thorough? Is it taking too long? Is the company following through? Click here to read more about these important internal investigation concerns in an article recently written by Kelly Ann Bird and published by The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel.

Employee Participation in Internal Investigation Not Covered by Anti-Retaliation Provision of Title VII, According to Second Circuit

The Second Circuit, in a case of first impression, ruled that an employee is not protected against retaliation prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) for participating in an investigation of sexual harassment conducted by an employer before a charge of discrimination has been filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Although under Title VII, employers are duty-bound to appropriately remedy discrimination and harassment in the workplace uncovered by such investigation, employers in the Second Circuit can breathe a modest sigh of relief that a negative employment action affecting an employee who claims protection under Title VII based on “participating” in an investigation following an internal complaint is not actionable.