In March 2022, Governor Hochul signed an amendment to the New York State Human Rights Law which requires the New York State Division of Human Rights (“NYSDHR”) to launch a statewide hotline for issues related to workplace sexual harassment.
- While the amendment took effect on July 14, 2022, the hotline became active on July 19, 2022. Employees in New York may now call 1-800-HARASS-3 (1-800-427-2773) to connect with pro-bono attorneys, who will advise callers of their legal rights regarding sexual harassment, as well as the specifics of their individual case.
- The hotline is free and confidential and is staffed on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- The amendment requires the NYSDHR, in conjunction with the New York State Department of Labor, to “ensure that information on the hotline is included in any materials employers must post or provide to employees regarding sexual harassment.”
- Accordingly, each employer should update its handbook and/or sexual harassment prevention policy, postings, and training materials to include information regarding the hotline.
- The amendment contains a non-solicitation provision to prevent attorneys from using the hotline as a source of business. Attorneys who represent employees from using the hotline to attract potential clients, the amendment explicitly states that the pro-bono attorneys “may not solicit, or permit employees or agents of the attorneys to solicit on the attorney’s behalf, further representation of any individuals they advise through the hotline relating to [a] discussed sexual harassment complaint.”
Employers should be aware that the hotline provides an additional resource for employees to report workplace sexual harassment, and will likely increase the number of formal complaints filed. Meltzer Lippe is well versed in legislative developments related to sexual harassment and provides sexual harassment/discrimination prevention training to supervisors and employees. Employers with questions relative to the foregoing are encouraged to contact Daniel F. Carrascal or Nicholas P. Melito at Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone LLP.