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To that end, this blog is Part II of our series on “Remedies under Major New York Labor and Employment Laws” and a review of the doctrine of “Remedies” – a very significant issue under New York’s Employment and Labor Laws. In Part I, we introduced the doctrine and mentioned that compensatory and economic damages are usually offered to prevailing plaintiffs with the aim of either making them whole again by restoring the original economic position or status they had been before a violation or injury occurred or compensating them for various losses. Another key thing we noted is that the law allows additional penalties, such as punitive damages, to be added as a way of punishing wrongdoers. Notably, some statutes permit attorney’s costs and fees of the prevailing parties to shift to the losing parties.
To move on with this discussion, this blog is titled “Remedies Available Under New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL)” and is a review of the remedies available under New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), N.Y. Exec. Law §§ 290 et seq.
Remedies Available Under New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL)
Pursuant to N.Y. Exec. Law § 297(4)(c)(ii), prevailing plaintiffs are provided with an economic damage referred to as back pay under the NYSHRL. Generally, back pay is aimed at remedying any losses that a victim of a violation, such as harassment or discrimination, incurred before the specific violation took place.
On the one hand, pursuant to N.Y. Exec. Law § 297(4)(c)(iii) of the NYSHRL, the New York State Division of Human Rights (NYSDHR) may authorize (1) the aggrieved party to be awarded compensatory damages, which, as the term suggests, aims to compensate the individual for losses incurred following a violation. On the other hand, particularly when it comes to a claim of sexual harassment, the aggrieved person may also be awarded, as provided for under the NYSHRL, compensatory damages for loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, inconveniences, emotional suffering or pain, and other non-pecuniary losses.
Additionally, as codified under N.Y. Exec. Law § 297(4)(c), punitive damages may also be awarded to aggrieved individuals under the NYSHRL and by the authority of the NYSDHR. As mentioned earlier, punitive damages constitute additional penalties that are added as a way of punishing individuals who violate the law.
Attorney’s Fees and Costs
Further, pursuant to N.Y. Exec. Law § 297(10), provided that the individual is the defendant or respondent, requests such fees, and presents a motion through which they show the frivolity of the action brought, a party that prevails in a claim concerning discrimination in employment may be awarded, through the authority of the NYSDHR or a court, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
In addition, pursuant to N.Y. Exec. Law § 298, a prevailing plaintiff may be granted, by the supreme court’s authority, a restraining order or temporary relief in a proceeding aimed at reviewing a disposition of the NYSDHR or a final order. Moreover, pursuant to N.Y. Exec. Law § 297(4)(c)(ii), the NYSDHR is also empowered by the NYSHRL to enter an order requiring an employer to undertake affirmative action such as (1) admitting or allowing an aggrieved employee to participate in a retraining or other occupation-related programs, an on-the-job training program, an apprenticeship training program, or a guidance program or (2) upgrade, reinstate, or hire an employee. In addition, pursuant to N.Y. Exec. Law § 297(4)(c)(i), the NYSDHR is also empowered by the NYSHRL to enter an order to require an employer to desist and cease from continuing with the unlawful practice of employment discrimination.
Lastly, a number of other remedies are also available under the NYSHRL. For instance, pursuant to N.Y. Exec. Law § 297(4)(c)(vi), a court may impose (1) civil penalties and fines in an amount not exceeding $50,000 or (2) penalties and fines in an amount not exceeding $100,000 should it determine that an unlawful discriminatory act was committed maliciously, wantonly, or willfully. Moreover, pursuant to N.Y. Exec. Law § 299, the NYSHRL provides that some violations may also amount to criminal offenses.
Additionally, pursuant to N.Y. Exec. Law § 297(4)(c)(vii), the employer may also be required to provide a report concerning how it has complied with employment anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, and anti-retaliation regulations, statutes, or laws in its workplace by the Commissioner of the NYSDHR.
Lastly, pursuant to N.Y. Pub. Off. Law §§ 17-A(2) and N.Y. Pub. Off. Law §§ 18-A(2), a public entity or state agency employee may be required to reimburse the employer for any costs or fees the latter has made to a plaintiff for an adjudicated award on the basis of a sexual harassment claim for which the former has been held individually liable for engaging in the wrongdoing intentionally. As provided under this statute, the employee has 90 days of the award payment to make the reimbursement.
In Part III of the series and a blog titled “Remedies Available under New York Minimum Wage Act,” we will discuss the various remedies available under this law as codified under N.Y. Lab. Law §§ 650 et seq.
As usual, stay tuned for more legal guidance, training, and education. In the interim, if there are any questions or comments, please let us know at the Contact Us page!
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