Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
Earlier this year, Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law S.812B/A.2035B, which amended the New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law § 296, to require the establishment of a state-wide, toll-free, confidential hotline for complaints of workplace sexual harassment. On July 19, 2022, Governor Hochul announced the launch of this new hotline.
New York employees may now call 1-800-427-2773 to receive free legal counseling regarding any complaint of workplace sexual harassment or to submit a complaint regarding such harassment. The hotline will operate during regular business hours and will be staffed by a team of pro bono attorneys for the New York State Division of Human Rights (“Division”).
Once a call is received, Division staff will provide the caller with information about how to file a sexual harassment complaint with the agency and, if the caller is interested, will connect them with the name and contact information of a pro bono attorney for further assistance.1 Although these referrals are intended to provide timely legal advice, they supplement, rather than replace any of the Division’s normal complaint processing procedures, which do not require representation by counsel.
Employer Next Steps
While additional guidance from the New York State Department of Labor is expected, the law makes clear that information about the workplace sexual harassment hotline should be included in materials employers provide to employees regarding sexual harassment.
Accordingly, employers should review all handbook (and standalone) policies, workplace postings and training materials regarding sexual harassment to ensure that the new hotline telephone number is included. In addition, employers should work with counsel to stay up to date on any guidance regarding posting requirements or other related guidance from the NYDOL.
1 Attorneys answering these calls are not permitted, as per New York’s Rules of Professional Conduct and the new law itself, to solicit further representation of any worker whom they assist, as set forth in New York’s Rules of Professional Conduct. 12 NYCRR R. 6.5.