This bill has been amended

Bill S1823B-2009

Establishes a civil cause of action for employees who are subjected to an abusive work environment

Establishes a civil cause of action for employees who are subjected to an abusive work environment.

Details

Actions

  • May 12, 2010: referred to labor
  • May 12, 2010: DELIVERED TO ASSEMBLY
  • May 12, 2010: PASSED SENATE
  • Mar 17, 2010: ADVANCED TO THIRD READING
  • Mar 16, 2010: 2ND REPORT CAL.
  • Mar 15, 2010: 1ST REPORT CAL.262
  • Feb 23, 2010: PRINT NUMBER 1823B
  • Feb 23, 2010: AMEND AND RECOMMIT TO LABOR
  • Jan 6, 2010: REFERRED TO LABOR
  • Jul 16, 2009: COMMITTED TO RULES
  • May 20, 2009: ADVANCED TO THIRD READING
  • May 19, 2009: 2ND REPORT CAL.
  • May 18, 2009: 1ST REPORT CAL.343
  • Apr 29, 2009: PRINT NUMBER 1823A
  • Apr 29, 2009: AMEND AND RECOMMIT TO LABOR
  • Feb 9, 2009: REFERRED TO LABOR

Votes

VOTE: COMMITTEE VOTE: - Labor - Mar 15, 2010
Ayes (13): Onorato, Stachowski, Breslin, Dilan, Klein, Savino, Stewart-Cousins, Perkins, Addabbo, Robach, Marcellino, Leibell, McDonald
Ayes W/R (1): Alesi
Excused (2): Fuschillo, Morahan

Memo

 BILL NUMBER:  S1823B

TITLE OF BILL : An act to amend the labor law, in relation to establishing a private cause of action for an abusive work environment

PURPOSE : To establish a civil cause of action for employees who are subject to an abusive work environment.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS : Clearly states the definitions of abusive conduct; abusive work environment; conduct; constructive discharge; employee; employer; malice; negative employment decision; physical harm; and psychological harm.

Section 3 defines Unlawful Employment Practice

Section 4 defines Employer Liability

Section 5 defines Defenses

Section 6 defines Retaliation

Section 7 defines Relief generally Employer liability

Section 8 defines Procedures Private right of action Time limitations

Section 9 defines Effect on Collective Bargaining Agreements

Section 10 defines Effect on other state laws other state laws Worker's compensation and election remedies

JUSTIFICATION : The social and economic well-being of the state is dependent upon healthy and productive employees. Surveys and studies have documented that between 16 to 21 percent of employees directly experience health-endangering workplace bullying, abuse and harassment, and that this behavior is four times more prevalent than sexual harassment alone. Surveys and studies have also documented that abusive work environments can have serious effects on targeted employees, including feelings of shame and humiliation, stress, loss of sleep, severe anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, reduced immunity to infection, stress related gastrointestinal disorders, hypertension, pathophysiologic changes that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and other such effects.

This legislation will provide legal redress for employees who have been harmed, psychologically, physically, or economically. It will also provide legal incentives for employers to prevent and respond to mistreatment of employees at work.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY : 2009: Advanced to Third Reading 2008: S.8793/Referred to Rules

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS : None.

EFFECTIVE DATE : This act shall take effect immediately.

Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 1823--B 2009-2010 Regular Sessions IN SENATE February 9, 2009 ___________
Introduced by Sens. MORAHAN, ONORATO, HASSELL-THOMPSON, SAVINO -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Labor -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee -- recommitted to the Committee on Labor in accordance with Senate Rule 6, sec. 8 -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee AN ACT to amend the labor law, in relation to establishing a private cause of action for an abusive work environment THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The labor law is amended by adding a new article 20-D to read as follows: ARTICLE 20-D ABUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT SECTION 760. LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND INTENT. 761. DEFINITIONS. 762. ABUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT. 763. EMPLOYER LIABILITY. 764. DEFENSES. 765. RETALIATION. 766. REMEDIES. 767. ENFORCEMENT. 768. EFFECT ON COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENTS. 769. EFFECT OF OTHER LAWS. S 760. LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND INTENT. THE LEGISLATURE HEREBY FINDS THAT THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC WELL-BEING OF THE STATE IS DEPENDENT UPON HEALTHY AND PRODUCTIVE EMPLOYEES. SURVEYS AND STUDIES HAVE DOCUMENTED THAT BETWEEN SIXTEEN AND TWENTY-ONE PERCENT OF EMPLOYEES DIRECTLY EXPE- RIENCE HEALTH ENDANGERING WORKPLACE BULLYING, ABUSE AND HARASSMENT. SUCH BEHAVIOR IS FOUR TIMES MORE PREVALENT THAN SEXUAL HARASSMENT. THESE
SURVEYS AND STUDIES HAVE FURTHER FOUND THAT ABUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENTS CAN HAVE SERIOUS EFFECTS ON THE TARGETED EMPLOYEES, INCLUDING FEELINGS OF SHAME AND HUMILIATION, STRESS, LOSS OF SLEEP, SEVERE ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER, REDUCED IMMUNITY TO INFECTION, STRESS-RELATED GASTROINTESTINAL DISORDERS, HYPERTENSION, AND PATHOPHYSIOLOGIC CHANGES THAT INCREASE THE RISK OF CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASES. FURTHERMORE, THE LEGISLATURE FINDS THAT ABUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENTS CAN HAVE SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES FOR EMPLOYERS, INCLUDING REDUCED EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY AND MORALE, HIGHER TURNOVER AND ABSENTEEISM RATES, AND SIGNIFICANT INCREASES IN MEDICAL AND WORKERS' COMPENSATION CLAIMS. THE LEGISLATURE HEREBY FINDS THAT UNLESS MISTREATED EMPLOYEES HAVE BEEN SUBJECTED TO ABUSIVE TREATMENT IN THE WORKPLACE ON THE BASIS OF RACE, COLOR, SEX, NATIONAL ORIGIN OR AGE, SUCH EMPLOYEES ARE UNLIKELY TO HAVE LEGAL RECOURSE TO REDRESS SUCH TREATMENT. THE LEGISLATURE HEREBY DECLARES THAT LEGAL PROTECTION FROM ABUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENTS SHOULD NOT BE LIMITED TO BEHAVIOR GROUNDED IN A PROTECTED CLASS STATUS AS REQUIRED BY EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION STAT- UTES. EXISTING WORKERS' COMPENSATION PROVISIONS AND COMMON LAW TORT LAW ARE INADEQUATE TO DISCOURAGE SUCH ABUSIVE CONDUCT AND PROVIDE ADEQUATE REDRESS TO EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE BEEN HARMED BY ABUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENTS. THE PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE SHALL BE TO PROVIDE LEGAL REDRESS FOR EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE BEEN HARMED PSYCHOLOGICALLY, PHYSICALLY OR ECONOM- ICALLY BY BEING DELIBERATELY SUBJECTED TO ABUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENTS; AND TO PROVIDE LEGAL INCENTIVES FOR EMPLOYERS TO PREVENT AND RESPOND TO MISTREATMENT OF EMPLOYEES AT WORK. S 761. DEFINITIONS. AS USED IN THIS ARTICLE, THE FOLLOWING TERMS SHALL HAVE THE FOLLOWING MEANINGS: 1. "ABUSIVE CONDUCT" MEANS CONDUCT, WITH MALICE, TAKEN AGAINST AN EMPLOYEE BY AN EMPLOYER OR ANOTHER EMPLOYEE IN THE WORKPLACE, THAT A REASONABLE PERSON WOULD FIND TO BE HOSTILE, OFFENSIVE AND UNRELATED TO THE EMPLOYER'S LEGITIMATE BUSINESS INTERESTS. IN CONSIDERING WHETHER SUCH CONDUCT IS OCCURRING, THE TRIER OF FACT SHOULD WEIGH THE SEVERITY, NATURE AND FREQUENCY OF THE CONDUCT. ABUSIVE CONDUCT SHALL INCLUDE, BUT NOT BE LIMITED TO, REPEATED INFLICTION OF VERBAL ABUSE, SUCH AS THE USE OF DEROGATORY REMARKS, INSULTS AND EPITHETS; VERBAL OR PHYSICAL CONDUCT THAT A REASONABLE PERSON WOULD FIND THREATENING, INTIMIDATING OR HUMILI- ATING; OR THE GRATUITOUS SABOTAGE OR UNDERMINING OF AN EMPLOYEE'S WORK PERFORMANCE. A SINGLE ACT SHALL NOT CONSTITUTE ABUSIVE CONDUCT, UNLESS THE TRIER OF FACT FINDS SUCH ACT TO BE ESPECIALLY SEVERE OR EGREGIOUS. 2. "ABUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT" MEANS A WORKPLACE IN WHICH AN EMPLOYEE IS SUBJECTED TO ABUSIVE CONDUCT THAT IS SO SEVERE THAT IT CAUSES PHYS- ICAL OR PSYCHOLOGICAL HARM TO SUCH EMPLOYEE, AND WHERE SUCH EMPLOYEE PROVIDES NOTICE TO THE EMPLOYER THAT SUCH EMPLOYEE HAS BEEN SUBJECTED TO ABUSIVE CONDUCT AND SUCH EMPLOYER AFTER RECEIVING NOTICE THEREOF, FAILS TO ELIMINATE THE ABUSIVE CONDUCT. 3. "CONDUCT" MEANS ALL FORMS OF BEHAVIOR, INCLUDING ACTS AND OMISSIONS TO ACT. 4. "CONSTRUCTIVE DISCHARGE" MEANS ABUSIVE CONDUCT AGAINST AN EMPLOYEE THAT CAUSES SUCH EMPLOYEE TO RESIGN FROM HIS OR HER EMPLOYMENT. 5. "MALICE" MEANS THE INTENT TO CAUSE ANOTHER PERSON TO SUFFER PSYCHO- LOGICAL, PHYSICAL OR ECONOMIC HARM, WITHOUT LEGITIMATE CAUSE OR JUSTI- FICATION. MALICE MAY BE INFERRED FROM THE PRESENCE OF FACTORS SUCH AS OUTWARD EXPRESSIONS OF HOSTILITY, HARMFUL CONDUCT INCONSISTENT WITH AN EMPLOYER'S LEGITIMATE BUSINESS INTERESTS, A CONTINUATION OF HARMFUL AND ILLEGITIMATE CONDUCT AFTER A COMPLAINANT REQUESTS THAT IT CEASE OR
DISPLAYS OUTWARD SIGNS OF EMOTIONAL OR PHYSICAL DISTRESS IN THE FACE OF THE CONDUCT, OR ATTEMPTS TO EXPLOIT THE COMPLAINANT'S KNOWN PSYCHOLOG- ICAL OR PHYSICAL VULNERABILITY. 6. "NEGATIVE EMPLOYMENT DECISION" MEANS A TERMINATION, CONSTRUCTIVE DISCHARGE, DEMOTION, UNFAVORABLE REASSIGNMENT, REFUSAL TO PROMOTE OR DISCIPLINARY ACTION. 7. "PHYSICAL HARM" MEANS THE MATERIAL IMPAIRMENT OF A PERSON'S PHYS- ICAL HEALTH OR BODILY INTEGRITY, AS DOCUMENTED BY A COMPETENT PHYSICIAN OR SUPPORTED BY COMPETENT EXPERT EVIDENCE AT TRIAL. 8. "PSYCHOLOGICAL HARM" MEANS THE MATERIAL IMPAIRMENT OF A PERSON'S MENTAL HEALTH, AS DOCUMENTED BY A COMPETENT PHYSICIAN OR SUPPORTED BY COMPETENT EXPERT EVIDENCE AT TRIAL. S 762. ABUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT. IT SHALL BE UNLAWFUL TO SUBJECT AN EMPLOYEE TO AN ABUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT. S 763. EMPLOYER LIABILITY. AN EMPLOYER SHALL BE CIVILLY LIABLE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF AN ABUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT WITHIN ANY WORKPLACE UNDER ITS CONTROL. S 764. DEFENSES. 1. IT SHALL BE AN AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE TO A CAUSE OF ACTION FOR ABUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT, THAT THE EMPLOYER EXERCISED REASON- ABLE CARE TO PREVENT AND PROMPTLY CORRECT THE ABUSIVE CONDUCT WHICH IS THE BASIS OF SUCH CAUSE OF ACTION AND THE PLAINTIFF UNREASONABLY FAILED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE APPROPRIATE PREVENTIVE OR CORRECTIVE OPPORTU- NITIES PROVIDED BY SUCH EMPLOYER. SUCH AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE SHALL NOT BE AVAILABLE TO AN EMPLOYER WHEN THE ABUSIVE CONDUCT CULMINATES IN A NEGA- TIVE EMPLOYMENT DECISION WITH REGARD TO THE PLAINTIFF. 2. IT SHALL BE AN AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE TO A CAUSE OF ACTION FOR ABUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT, THAT THE EMPLOYER MADE A NEGATIVE EMPLOYMENT DECISION WITH REGARD TO THE PLAINTIFF WHICH IS CONSISTENT WITH SUCH EMPLOYER'S LEGITIMATE BUSINESS INTERESTS, SUCH AS TERMINATION OR DEMOTION BASED ON THE PLAINTIFF'S POOR PERFORMANCE OR THE COMPLAINT IS BASED PRIMARILY UPON THE EMPLOYER'S REASONABLE INVESTIGATION OF POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS, ILLEGAL OR UNETHICAL ACTIVITY. S 765. RETALIATION. ANY RETALIATORY ACTION AGAINST ANY EMPLOYEE ALLEG- ING A VIOLATION OF THIS ARTICLE SHALL BE DEEMED TO BE A RETALIATORY PERSONNEL ACTION AS PROHIBITED BY SECTION SEVEN HUNDRED FORTY OF THIS CHAPTER. S 766. REMEDIES. 1. WHERE A DEFENDANT HAS BEEN FOUND TO HAVE ENGAGED IN ABUSIVE CONDUCT, OR CAUSED OR MAINTAINED AN ABUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT, THE COURT MAY ENJOIN SUCH DEFENDANT FROM ENGAGING IN SUCH ILLEGAL ACTIV- ITY AND MAY ORDER ANY OTHER RELIEF THAT IS APPROPRIATE INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, REINSTATEMENT, REMOVAL OF THE OFFENDING PARTY FROM THE PLAINTIFF'S WORK ENVIRONMENT, REIMBURSEMENT FOR LOST WAGES, MEDICAL EXPENSES, COMPENSATION FOR EMOTIONAL DISTRESS, PUNITIVE DAMAGES AND ATTORNEY FEES. 2. WHERE AN EMPLOYER HAS BEEN FOUND TO HAVE CAUSED OR MAINTAINED AN ABUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT THAT DID NOT RESULT IN A NEGATIVE EMPLOYMENT DECISION, SUCH EMPLOYER'S LIABILITY FOR DAMAGES FOR EMOTIONAL DISTRESS SHALL NOT EXCEED TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS AND SHALL HAVE NO LIABIL- ITY FOR PUNITIVE DAMAGES. THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SUBDIVISION SHALL NOT APPLY TO ANY EMPLOYEE WHO ENGAGES IN ABUSIVE CONDUCT. S 767. ENFORCEMENT. 1. THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE ARE ENFORCEABLE BY MEANS OF A CIVIL CAUSE OF ACTION COMMENCED BY AN INJURED EMPLOYEE. 2. NOTWITHSTANDING THE PROVISIONS OF THE CIVIL PRACTICE LAW AND RULES, AN ACTION TO ENFORCE THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE SHALL BE COMMENCED WITHIN ONE YEAR OF THE LAST ABUSIVE CONDUCT WHICH IS THE BASIS OF THE ALLEGATION OF ABUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT.
S 768. EFFECT ON COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENTS. THIS ARTICLE SHALL NOT PREVENT, INTERFERE, EXEMPT OR SUPERSEDE ANY CURRENT PROVISIONS OF AN EMPLOYEE'S EXISTING COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT WHICH PROVIDES GREATER RIGHTS AND PROTECTIONS THAN PRESCRIBED IN THIS ARTICLE NOR SHALL THIS ARTICLE PREVENT ANY NEW PROVISIONS OF THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT WHICH PROVIDE GREATER RIGHTS AND PROTECTIONS FROM BEING IMPLE- MENTED AND APPLICABLE TO SUCH EMPLOYEE WITHIN SUCH COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT. WHERE THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT PROVIDES GREATER RIGHTS AND PROTECTIONS THAN PRESCRIBED IN THIS ARTICLE, THE RECOGNIZED COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGENT MAY OPT TO ACCEPT OR REJECT TO BE COVERED BY THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE. S 769. EFFECT OF OTHER LAWS. 1. NO PROVISION OF THIS ARTICLE SHALL BE DEEMED TO EXEMPT ANY PERSON OR ENTITY FROM ANY LIABILITY, DUTY OR PENAL- TY PROVIDED BY ANY OTHER STATE LAW, RULE OR REGULATION. 2. THE REMEDIES OF THIS ARTICLE SHALL BE GRANTED IN ADDITION TO ANY COMPENSATION AVAILABLE PURSUANT TO THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION LAW; PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT NO PERSON WHO HAS COLLECTED WORKERS' COMPEN- SATION BENEFITS FOR CONDITIONS ARISING OUT OF AN ABUSIVE WORK ENVIRON- MENT, SHALL BE AUTHORIZED TO COMMENCE A CAUSE OF ACTION PURSUANT TO THIS ARTICLE FOR THE SAME SUCH CONDITIONS. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately, and shall apply to abusive conduct occurring on or after such date.

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