Recording Vice President's report

Volume 124, No. 6June, 2024

Harvey S. Mars, Esq.

Back in my Allegro column of October 2018, I wrote about how sexual harassment protections were being strengthened in both New York State and New York City. I’d like to revisit this article at this time and give some updates to it…

As some readers may remember, the December 2017 issue of Allegro featured a courageous cover story by Local 802 member Camille Thurman, who wrote about overcoming sexual harassment as a female musician in New York City.

Later, to help inform our members about their legal rights, I wrote about how New York City Law attempts to provide some protections against sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. In 2005, the New York City Administrative Code was strengthened in this regard, and over the years, favorable judicial decisions have increased the scope of its protections.

In 2018, there were additional positive developments. Legislation in New York extended the reach of both the remedies and the protections afforded to New York City and New York State workers. Former Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law a package of legislation known as the “Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act” (Local Laws 95 and 96), which extended the legal protections afforded to employees far beyond what was available in many other states. This progressive law became effective on Sept. 6, 2018.

Though some of this legislation was geared towards public sector employees and employer reporting requirements, significant portions did address private sector workers. Every musician should review these laws and learn how they can reduce sexual harassment in the workplace.

Unfortunately, while these statutes (and others) have been in effect for several years, EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows recently noted that “harassment, both in-person and online, remains a serious issue in America’s workplaces.” As a result of the continued pervasiveness of workplace harassment in the United States, the EEOC issued new enforcement guidelines in April 2024. This is the first time the EEOC has amended its regulations in over twenty-five years. The new guidance outlines how employers should provide adequate anti-harassment policies, training, and complaint procedures, as well as instruct supervisors on how to recognize and report instances of harassment. It contains voluminous examples of impermissible workplace conduct. It also made the regulations congruent with evolving legal standards on gender identity, transgender workers’ rights and a June 2020 Supreme Court decision extending TItle VII protection to gender identity and sexual orientation.

Under the 2018 state and city laws, all NYC employers are now required to prominently display a poster developed by the New York City Commission on Human Rights that reviews and highlights what sexual harassment is, what legal remedies there are for it and how an affected employee may pursue those remedies. The poster is required to be displayed in common work areas in both English and Spanish (click here to see the English version.)

Further, New York City employers are now required to distribute to all employees a fact sheet detailing the contents of that law, which parallels the information contained in the poster.

As of 2019, these laws also require employers who have 15 or more employees (including interns, supervisors, and managerial employees) to conduct annual anti-sexual harassment training. The training must cover topics such as the definition of sexual harassment and how to bring a sexual harassment complaint both internally and through administrative agencies such as the NYC Commission on Human Rights. While this training is meant to be interactive, it need not be conducted in person by a live instructor. The commission developed an online version, which we in fact use to train Local 802 personnel. This training is required to be conducted on an annual basis for current employees. New employees who work 80 hours a year on a full or part-time basis in New York City must also receive training within the first 90 days of their employment. Employers must obtain from each employee a signed acknowledgement that they attended and completed the training. This acknowledgement may be provided electronically. Employers will also be required to maintain documentation and records related to the training they have conducted.

Finally, the law amends the New York City Human Rights Law to permit claims of gender-based harassment by all employees regardless of how many employees their employer has. Prior to the amendment, the law did not apply to employers that employed less than five employees. The law also extends the statute of limitations for claims of sexual harassment to three years (from the previous one year).

New York State has added a provision to the New York State Human Rights Law prohibiting sexual harassment of “non-employees” in the workplace, meaning that state law will now prohibit discrimination (including sexual harassment) against “contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants or other persons providing services pursuant to a contract in the workplace-or an employee of any of these.

Further, as of November 2023, New York State prohibits settling sexual harassment cases with non-disclosure agreements (agreements that require the terms and existence of a settlement to be held in confidence) unless the claimant affirmatively prefers non-disclosure. This law, however, does not have retroactive effect.

These laws placed New York far ahead of other municipalities in its effort to eradicate workplace sexual harassment. It is imperative that all employees become aware of the rights and protections they have under these state and city laws so that if confronted with workplace harassment, they can exercise those rights.

Local 802 is here to assist as well and has also enacted its own means of protecting its members against various forms of workplace harassment. In 2018, Local 802 amended its bylaws to include a provision (Article IV, Section 1, paragraph uu) that makes it a violation to:

…directly or indirectly practice discrimination or harassment in the workplace or in a work-related setting outside the workplace in any form on the basis of race, religion, age, political affiliation or persuasion, disability, ancestry, pregnancy, national origin or ethnic background, color, sex, gender, gender identity or expression, or sexual preference, citizenship status, marital/partnership status and genetic predisposition, or against any other protected class under Federal, State or Municipal law, including but not limited to contracting, hiring, booking, securing engagements, terms of employment or working conditions; or (ii) to engage in retaliatory behavior, including adverse employment action, against any individual who reports discrimination or harassment, or who participates in an investigation of such reports.

(2)(i) to engage in mistreatment or unwelcome conduct in the workplace or in a work-related setting outside the workplace, that is persistent and severe, whether verbal, non-verbal, physical, or communicated through electronic means, digital devices or otherwise, that (a) harms, intimidates, threatens, degrades or humiliates a member, or (b) has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with another member’s work performance; or (ii) to engage in retaliatory behavior, including adverse employment action, against any individual who reports mistreatment or unwelcome conduct that is persistent and severe, or who participates in an investigation of such reports.

Later, in 2019, Local 802 created a new “Harassment, Bullying, Discrimination, and Emergency Response and Reporting Procedure.”

Now, President Sara Cutler is announcing in this issue of Allegro that the union will be trying a new reporting platform called #NotMe. More details will be rolled out in the coming weeks and months.

Besides these reporting mechanisms, there is another option. Internal union disciplinary proceedings serve as a supplement to other enforcement proceedings to redress illegal work-related conduct. A member should not hesitate to file a charge if she or he is subject to harassment by another member as defined in our bylaws above. If anyone has any questions about filing a charge under our bylaws or how to seek protection under the various laws I have detailed here, please do not hesitate to contact my office anytime. I will always be available to help. Contact me at or contact the Local 802 hotline anonymously at

NOTE: The Local 802 bylaws may be downloaded by members in good standing. Log into the Local 802 membership portal, then select MEMBER DOCS, then LOCAL 802 CONSTITUTION & BYLAWS.

Nothing in this article should be construed as formal legal advice given in the context of an attorney-client relationship.