The NYC Human Rights Law protects all individuals against discrimination based on gender, which includes sexual harassment in the workplace, in housing, and in public accommodations like stores and restaurants. Sexual harassment is unwelcome verbal or physical behavior based on a person’s gender and can include unwanted touching; offensive and suggestive gestures or comments; asking about a person’s sex life or making sexualized remarks about a person’s appearance; sexualizing the work environment with imagery or other items; or telling sexual jokes. Violators can be held accountable with civil penalties of up to $250,000 in the case of a willful violation.
The Commission can also assess emotional distress damages and other remedies to the victim, can require the violator to undergo training, and can mandate other remedies such as community service.
On May 9, 2018, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act, a comprehensive legislative package aimed at addressing and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace, into law. Included in the package is an expansion of the City Human Rights Law in cases of gender-based harassment to increase the statute of limitations from one year to three years and expand protections to all employees, regardless of the size of their employer.Under Local Law 96 of 2018, employers with 15 or more employees are required to conduct annual anti-sexual harassment training for all employees. Employers must ensure all employees are trained annually, beginning with Calendar Year 2019, and every year thereafter. The Commission has developed an online training that satisfies this requirement. Employers may also choose to provide their own annual anti-sexual harassment training for employees provided that it includes specific key elements. Check out the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act page for further detail on this legislative package. View Press Release on the training.