NY Reminder: Harassment Protections for Contractors

As a reminder to New York employers, New York’s State Human Rights Law has been amended “to prohibit sexual harassment against independent contractors”.

Employers who work with independent contractors must update policies to include harassment protections for contractors, and “anti-sexual harassment trainings will have to be modified to include independent contractor rights”. This includes “freelancers, consultants, project contract workers, vendors, and suppliers”, who must now be protected “the same as employees”.

Ford Harrison explains the effect the amendment will have on New York employers:

By definition, independent contractors have more independence and flexibility than employees to decide who they want to work for, when and where. They can, theoretically, pick and choose their engagements and refuse to work for sexual harassers. But unconventional hours, unique working conditions, ill-defined duties and responsibilities, and working one-on-one without others present can provide opportunities for sexual harassers. Complaining may mean loss of an engagement and the steady work and income that comes with it, and loss of other opportunities when word gets around.

By giving independent contractors legal recourse, the amendment places them on a par with the employer’s employees. This should have two immediate effects. First, independent contractors should feel less vulnerable to sexual harassment and more willing to report it. Second, employers should feel compelled to take greater precautions with an independent contractor’s working conditions and the persons they assign independent contractors to work with on the job.

For more information on New York’s Harassment Policy & Training Compliance, please click here.

For more on the new protections, please click here.

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