New York State employers need to take immediate action to bring their current sexual harassment policies up to code in accordance with the new regulations, which will include reviewing their current policies and making required changes, as appropriate, or adopting the State’s model policies.

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What You Need To Know About New York State’s New Sexual Harassment Training and Policy

Effective Tuesday, October 9, 2018, every employer in New York State is required to adopt a written sexual harassment prevention policy and institute annual anti-harassment training for employees. To help employers stay compliant, the State has issued an “Employer Toolkit” that provides step-by-step guidance on the new laws, as well as model policy and training documents that can be customized for your workplace, and FAQs to answer any questions that might emerge as the new policies are being rolled out. More information is below, and is also accessible via the State’s website “Combating Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.”

Requirements for New Written Policy on Sexual Harassment

Employers are required to develop and distribute written sexual harassment prevention policies to employees that are compliant with the new law by October 9, 2018. Employers may either adopt the State’s model sexual harassment prevention policy and complaint form, or implement their own policy and complaint form that includes the minimum standards provided under the new State regulations.  As outlined in the Minimum Standards provided by the State, the policy must:

  • Prohibit sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights;
  • Provide examples of prohibited conduct;
  • Include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment, remedies available to victims of sexual harassment, and a statement that there may be applicable local laws;
  • Include a complaint form;
  • Include a procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints that ensures due process for all parties;
  • Inform employees of their rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially;
  • Clearly state that sexual harassment is considered a form of employee misconduct and that sanctions will be enforced against individuals engaging in sexual harassment and against supervisory and managerial personnel who knowingly allow such behavior to continue; and
  • Clearly state that retaliation against individuals who complain of sexual harassment or who testify or assist in any investigation or proceeding involving sexual harassment is unlawful.

Requirements for New Sexual Harassment Training

Additionally, all New York State employers are required to train current employees – including full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees – on the new sexual harassment prevention training by October 9, 2019. This training must be completed on an annual basis and all new employees entering into the company’s workforce must be trained as soon as possible after their start date. Employers can either adopt the State’s model training scriptslides, and/or case studies or provide other live training or interactive online/video training that meets the law’s minimum standards for training, which are outlined below:

  • The training must be interactive (see the model training guidance document for specific recommendations);
  • It must include an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights;
  • It must include examples of unlawful sexual harassment;
  • It must include information concerning the state and federal statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to targets of sexual harassment;
  • It must include information concerning employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints; and
  • It must include information addressing conduct by supervisors and additional responsibilities for supervisors.

How Can StoneTurn Help?

Given the upcoming deadlines, New York State employers need to take immediate action to review their current policies and make required changes, as appropriate, or adopt the State’s model policies. At StoneTurn, we can assist with reviewing your current sexual harassment policies to ensure that they are compliant, and work with you on bringing them up to code in accordance with these new regulations. We also provide customized sexual harassment prevention training for your workforce that is compliant with the New York State requirements.

About the Authors

Amy R. Foote

Amy R. Foote, a Partner with StoneTurn, brings nearly 20 years of legal, regulatory, compliance and investigative experience as a prosecutor, internal corporate counsel and litigator. She has advised public […]

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Katherine A. Lemire

Katherine A. Lemire, a Partner with StoneTurn, has more than 20 years of experience advising public and private sector clients on a broad range of compliance and integrity issues, complex […]

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