Sexual Harassment: Mandatory Arbitration and Nondisclosure Agreements
The NY legislature passed changes in sexual harassment law that Governor Cuomo signed into law on April 17, 2018. These laws went into effect 90 days after being enacted, which means they are currently in effect.
Prohibition of Mandatory Arbitration Clauses
Prohibited clauses in employment contracts make arbitration mandatory for allegations or claims that employees file regarding sexual harassment (or any discriminatory action). Any contracts that contain such clauses no longer have legal standing and will not be enforced by the NY courts. The fact that a mandatory arbitration clause exists in a contract does not make the other clauses the contract contains invalid. The only clause that is null and void is the clause that makes arbitration mandatory.
Prohibition of Nondisclosure Agreements
In the past, employers could prevent disclosure of sexual harassment by including a nondisclosure or confidentiality clause in a contract. Under the new change in NY law, employers cannot require a claimant to keep confidential the underlying facts and circumstance that led to the claim or action. The only exception is if confidentiality is the complainant’s preference. Nondisclosure prohibition also applies to an agreed upon judgment, decree, settlement or stipulation in a legal proceeding regarding the sexual harassment claim.
If a nondisclosure agreement is being considered, all parties must be allowed to consider it for a period of 21 days. Additionally, if used, the individual has seven days to revoke the agreement, which does not become effective until the revocation period has ended.
Are You an Employer with Questions about Employment Law Defense? Get Legal Help.
If you are uncertain about complying with employment laws or face a dispute or lawsuit brought against you by an employee, our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates are glad to discuss your concerns and determine how we can assist you.