Bill Text: NY S06594 | 2019-2020 | General Assembly | Introduced


Bill Title: Makes certain chapter amendments relating to law providing increased protections for protected classes and special protections for employees who have been sexually harassed and relates to the effectiveness of certain claims.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 2-0)

Status: (Engrossed) 2019-06-20 - returned to senate [S06594 Detail]

Download: New_York-2019-S06594-Introduced.html



                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________

                                          6594

                               2019-2020 Regular Sessions

                    IN SENATE

                                      June 17, 2019
                                       ___________

        Introduced  by  Sen.  BIAGGI -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
          printed to be committed to the Committee on Rules

        AN ACT to amend the executive law, in relation to increased  protections
          for  protected  classes and special protections for employees who have
          been sexually harassed; and to amend a chapter of the  laws  of  2019,
          amending  the  executive  law  relating  to  increased protections for
          protected classes and special protections for employees who have  been
          sexually  harassed,  as  proposed in legislative bills numbers A. 8421
          and S. 6577, in relation to the effectiveness thereof

          The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and  Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:

     1    Section  1.  Subdivision  5  of  section  292 of the executive law, as
     2  amended by a chapter of the laws of 2019 amending the executive law  and
     3  other  laws  relating to increased protections for protected classes and
     4  special protections for employees who have been  sexually  harassed,  as
     5  proposed in legislative bills numbers S. 6577 and A. 8421, is amended to
     6  read as follows:
     7    5.  The term "employer" shall include all employers within the state[,
     8  including the state and all political subdivisions thereof].
     9    § 2. Paragraph (h) of subdivision 1 of section 296  of  the  executive
    10  law,  as  added  by a chapter of the laws of 2019 amending the executive
    11  law and other laws  relating  to  increased  protections  for  protected
    12  classes  and  special  protections  for employees who have been sexually
    13  harassed, as proposed in legislative bills numbers S. 6577 and A.  8421,
    14  is amended to read as follows:
    15    (h)  For  an  employer,  licensing  agency, employment agency or labor
    16  organization to subject any individual to harassment because of an indi-
    17  vidual's age, race, creed, color, national origin,  sexual  orientation,
    18  gender identity or expression, military status, sex, disability, predis-
    19  posing  genetic characteristics, familial status, marital status, domes-
    20  tic violence victim status, or because the individual  has  opposed  any

         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD08950-05-9

        S. 6594                             2

     1  practices  forbidden  under  this  article or because the individual has
     2  filed a complaint, testified or assisted in any  proceeding  under  this
     3  article,  regardless  of  whether  such  harassment  would be considered
     4  severe  or  pervasive under precedent applied to harassment claims. Such
     5  harassment is an unlawful discriminatory practice when  it  subjects  an
     6  individual  to  inferior  terms,  conditions or privileges of employment
     7  because of the individual's membership in one or more of these protected
     8  categories. The fact that such individual did not make a complaint about
     9  the harassment to such employer, licensing agency, employment agency  or
    10  labor  organization shall not be determinative of whether such employer,
    11  licensing agency, employment  agency  or  labor  organization  shall  be
    12  liable. Nothing in this section shall imply that an employee must demon-
    13  strate  the  existence of an individual to whom the employee's treatment
    14  must be compared. It shall be an affirmative defense to liability  under
    15  this  subdivision  that  the  harassing  conduct does not rise above the
    16  level of what a  reasonable  victim  of  discrimination  with  the  same
    17  protected characteristic or characteristics would consider petty slights
    18  or trivial inconveniences.
    19    § 3. Subdivision 10 of section 297 of the executive law, as amended by
    20  a  chapter of the laws of 2019 amending the executive law and other laws
    21  relating to increased protections  for  protected  classes  and  special
    22  protections  for  employees who have been sexually harassed, as proposed
    23  in legislative bills numbers S. 6577 and A. 8421, is amended to read  as
    24  follows:
    25    10.  With  respect  to all cases of housing discrimination and housing
    26  related credit discrimination in an action or proceeding  at  law  under
    27  this  section  or  section two hundred ninety-eight of this article, the
    28  commissioner or the court may in its discretion award reasonable  attor-
    29  ney's fees to any prevailing or substantially prevailing party; and with
    30  respect to a claim of credit discrimination where sex is a basis of such
    31  discrimination,  and  with respect to all claims of employment discrimi-
    32  nation in an action or proceeding at law under this section  or  section
    33  two  hundred ninety-eight of this article, the commissioner or the court
    34  [shall] may in its discretion award reasonable attorney's fees attribut-
    35  able to such claim to any prevailing party; provided,  however,  that  a
    36  prevailing  respondent  or defendant in order to recover such reasonable
    37  attorney's fees must make a motion requesting such fees  and  show  that
    38  the  action  or  proceeding  brought was frivolous; and further provided
    39  that in a proceeding brought  in  the  division  of  human  rights,  the
    40  commissioner  may  only  award  attorney's fees as part of a final order
    41  after a public  hearing  held  pursuant  to  subdivision  four  of  this
    42  section.  In  no  case shall attorney's fees be awarded to the division,
    43  nor shall the division  be  liable  to  a  prevailing  or  substantially
    44  prevailing  party  for  attorney's  fees,  except in a case in which the
    45  division is a party to the action or the proceeding  in  the  division's
    46  capacity  as  an  employer.  In  cases  of  employment discrimination, a
    47  respondent shall only be liable for attorney's fees under this  subdivi-
    48  sion  if  the  respondent  has been found liable for having committed an
    49  unlawful discriminatory  practice.  In  order  to  find  the  action  or
    50  proceeding  to  be frivolous, the court or the commissioner must find in
    51  writing one or more of the following:
    52    (a) the action or proceeding was commenced, used or continued  in  bad
    53  faith, solely to delay or prolong the resolution of the litigation or to
    54  harass or maliciously injure another; or
    55    (b)  the  action or proceeding was commenced or continued in bad faith
    56  without any reasonable basis and could not be supported by a good  faith

        S. 6594                             3

     1  argument  for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law. If
     2  the action or proceeding was promptly discontinued  when  the  party  or
     3  attorney  learned  or  should have learned that the action or proceeding
     4  lacked such a reasonable basis, the court may find that the party or the
     5  attorney did not act in bad faith.
     6    §  4.  Subdivision (d) of section 16 of a chapter of the laws of 2019,
     7  amending  the  executive  law  relating  to  increased  protections  for
     8  protected  classes  and  special protections for employees who have been
     9  sexually harassed, as proposed in legislative bills numbers A. 8421  and
    10  S. 6577, is amended to read as follows:
    11    (d)  Sections  one,  one-a,  two,  three, four, five, six and thirteen
    12  shall only apply to claims [filed] accrued under  such  sections  on  or
    13  after the effective date of such sections.
    14    §  5.  This  act  shall  take  effect on the same date and in the same
    15  manner as a chapter of the laws of 2019 amending the executive  law  and
    16  other  laws  relating to increased protections for protected classes and
    17  special protections for employees who have been  sexually  harassed,  as
    18  proposed in legislative bills numbers S. 6577 and A. 8421, takes effect.
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