In a previous Client Alert, we reported that, on March 16, 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law a bill that would require the New York State Division of Human Rights to establish a toll-free confidential hotline for complaints of workplace sexual harassment. The goal of the new law being to connect victims of workplace sexual harassment, who may not necessarily understand their rights, with pro bono attorneys who can assist them.
On July 19, 2022, Governor Hochul announced the launch of the hotline. Employees who believe they are the victims of workplace sexual harassment may now call 1-800-HARASS-3 to speak, confidentially, with a pro bono attorney.
The hotline will be operated during normal business hours. According to the new law, which incorporates Rule 6.5 of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct, 22 N.Y.C.R.R. § 1200.0 (“Participation in limited pro bono legal service programs”), pro bono attorneys staffing the hotline will not be permitted to solicit callers for further legal representation.
Although we expect the Division of Human Rights and/or the New York State Department of Labor to provide further guidance at some point in the near future, employers in New York should take steps now to ensure that information regarding the hotline is included in the materials they provide to their employees regarding sexual harassment.