The New York State Senate recently strengthened the existing anti-retaliation law under the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL). The law has been amended to explicitly prohibit employers from leaking or releasing an employee’s personnel file as retaliation against certain forms of an employee’s protected conduct. This protected conduct includes an employee opposing discriminatory practices, filing complaints, and testifying or otherwise assisting in a proceeding involving the workplace.
Employers may often leak personnel files, or certain harmful or embarrassing documents, with the intent to discredit or minimize a victim or witness’ testimony. The threat of such a leak can also discourage many victims and witnesses from coming forward, and have a chilling effect on the truth coming out. This law seeks to prevent such retaliatory conduct.