Last year, New York State passed a law requiring employers of any size to implement training and policies regarding sexual harassment and discrimination. The deadline to comply with all of the law's mandates was extended to October 9, 2019.
If this hasn't been on your radar, read on.
The new law has two main requirements. First, every New York State employer must have an anti-discrimination and harassment policy implemented that meets or exceeds specified standards. These standards require that the policy, at a minimum:
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 that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment
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
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
Employers may provide the policy to employees electronically, but if they do, employees must be able to access the policy on a computer provided by the employer during work time and be able to print a copy for their records.
One important element of the policy is that employers are forbidden from including non-disclosure requirements in the settlement of an employee claim based on sexual harassment, unless the complainant requests it. In that case, additional requirements must be met for the settlement agreement to be effective.
A model policy and complaint form are provided, in multiple languages (which is another of the law's requirements), here.
The second part of the law's requirement states that every New York State-based employee or employee spending part of their time working in the state must undergo minimum interactive training, and managers must undergo additional training. This includes not only full-time workers, but also part-time, temporary and seasonal workers, and must be completed for all current employees by the October 9th deadline, and thereafter, new employees' training must be completed promptly after starting.
The training must:
include an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights
include examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment
include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment
include information concerning employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints
include information addressing conduct by supervisors and any additional responsibilities for such supervisors
Find more information on the law's requirement here, or call one of our attorneys for assistance.
P.S. California employers, watch this space: you have similar obligations with a deadline of January 1, 2021.