Effective January 1, 2020, the protections in the New York City Administrative Code, Section 8-107 (Section 8-102 et seq. of the Code is referred to as the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL)) for employees now extends to freelancers and independent contractors. Moreover, the definition of an “employer” for purposes of prohibiting gender-based harassment now includes all employers regardless of the number of individuals it employs. Finally, included in the definition of employer is the employer’s parent, spouse, domestic partner or child employed by the employer.
As a result of this NYCHRL amendment, companies must now consider strategies to adhere to the compliance obligations of NYCHRL Section 8-107, subsections 29 and 30 requiring employers to maintain anti-harassment and discrimination policies, provide a complaint mechanism, conduct interactive anti-harassment training for independent contractors and institute certain record-keeping measures. These NYCHRL anti-harassment compliance obligations went into effect on April 1, 2019 and required employers to complete anti-harassment training by April 1, 2020 for all of its employees and within 90 days of the start date for a new employee who works at least 80 hours in a calendar year on a full-time basis.
The extension of the NYCHRL for contractors (who work at least 80 hours in a calendar year on a full-time basis) will obligate companies to (1) post or communicate written anti-harassment policies to contractors, (2) make complaint mechanisms – including providing a complaint form -- available to contractors (3) conduct anti-harassment training each time an independent contractor is retained and (4) maintain records of training it conducted. Thus, all covered contractors – even after working a single day – are entitled to the NYCHRL’s protections and employer obligations.
These compliance obligations can be a challenge where a contractor is appropriately – due to independent contractor classification -- not given access to the company’s internal, electronic systems hosting workplace policies, and/or the contractors do not work on the company’s premises. As an example of a potential solution, a company could place on its external website its anti-harassment policies and complaint forms for contractors and could conduct interactive training by video for contractors working off-site.