Prohibitions for Retaliation Extend to Leaked Personnel Files

In March 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law that broadened employees’ protection against retaliation.

New York laws protect employees who file discrimination or harassment claims. It also protects employees who testified or assisted in a legal proceeding involving discrimination or harassment. Retaliation against them is illegal. Examples would include retaliation in the form of:

  • Transfer or demotion
  • Pay and/or hour cuts
  • Taking away privileges
  • Job termination
  • Inappropriate disciplinary action

The New York State Human Rights Law (SHRL) contains these prohibitions regarding retaliation. Now an additional protection exists.

Details about Extended Protection that Prohibits Leaking Personnel Files

Under the new law, an employer may not leak personnel file information if an employee opposes unlawful discrimination, whether by filing a complaint or testifying in a lawsuit.

While the law provides no definition for personnel file, typically personnel files contain information such as:

  • Performance evaluations
  • Attendance records
  • Forms for transfers, promotions or demotions
  • Termination forms
  • Complaints reported by guests or co-workers

In the past, employers could leak the above information in an attempt to discredit an employee or to discourage an employee from taking action against discrimination. There used to be no repercussions for doing so. However, the new law establishes leaking personnel files as a form of retaliation.

The exception would be disclosing personnel file information for a criminal, civil or other judicial or administrative proceeding. In such cases, the applicable law would allow it.

Leaking personnel files became retaliation as of March 2022, and the law went into effect as soon as the governor signed the bill.

(Reference: JDSupra)

Do you need assistance with protection against retaliation?

The Law Office of Peter A. Romero deals with all types of employment discrimination issues. We provide representation to clients throughout NYC, including in Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx and Harlem/Upper Manhattan. Call us at (631) 257-5588 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.