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Employer Liability In Discrimination Cases In New York City


The scope of an employer's liability has recently and dramatically increased in order to protect sexually harassed employees. Holdings in the New York federal district court cases Padmore v. LC Play, Inc., Guzman v. Macy's Retail and Zakrzewska v. The New School are substantially broadening employer liability.

Generally stated, the aforementioned cases adopt the following changes to the current New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL). Previously, employers could escape liability by asserting the defense that the employee unreasonably failed to utilize an employer's preventative or corrective anti-discrimination/harassment procedure. This defense, called "Faragher-Ellerth", will no longer be accepted. Instead, regardless of an employee's use of their employer's complaint procedure, employers are now strictly liable for any sexual harassment committed by their supervisors.

In addition to the inflating scope of the NYCHRL, the courts also expanded its reach. Now, employers who do not maintain offices may still be potentially liable to both the NYCHRL and the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), if they regularly conduct business in New York. Only one act of discrimination or harassment, in New York, is necessary to trigger the NYCHRL or NYSHRL, even if the impact is generally felt outside New York