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The U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in December 2017 a special education case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, which has culminated in an April 19, 2018 settlement and subsequent payment of $1.32 million to the parents and attorneys representing the student.

The parents had sought reimbursement from Douglas County School District for their son's education after they placed him in a private school for children with autism. The Supreme Court battle concerned the appropriate standard by which school officials are held, in determining if the student's rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) were violated.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who authored the Supreme Court’s unanimous 8-0 opinion in Endrew F., wrote that "a student offered an educational program providing ‘merely more than de minimis’ progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all." The Supreme Court ruled that, to meet its substantive obligation under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a school must offer an individualized education program (IEP) that is reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child's circumstances, and that there must be a showing that the student made substantive progress in order to comply with the IDEA.

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On April 12, 2018, the New York State Budget was signed into law, which contains significant new measures directing how private and public employers respond to, and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Highlights of the new law include:

  • prohibiting mandatory arbitration clauses for sexual harassment claims, with the exception of valid arbitration procedures in union-negotiated collective bargaining agreements;

  • prohibiting employers from requiring confidentiality clauses in settlements or agreements relating to claims of sexual harassment, unless the employee or complainant desires confidentiality;

  • requiring the New York State Department of Labor and Division of Human Rights to develop a model sexual harassment prevention policy and a model sexual harassment prevention training program for use by employers;

  • requiring employers to develop and distribute anti-harassment policies in the workplace and to provide anti-harassment training for all employees; and

  • covering non-employees from sexual harassment, including contractors, subcontractors, vendors, and consultants; among other provisions.

  • Make sure your handbooks and policies are consistent with New York's new anti-harassment law, and that the procedures followed in the workplace comply with the law.

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