The New York State Senate recently passed a bill aimed at strengthening and reforming the state’s sexual harassment laws. Now, through the 2019 budget bill, many of these provisions have become law along with additional requirements beyond those contemplated by the Senate’s bill.
Mandatory and Model Sexual Harassment Training and Policies
On October 1, 2018, The New York State Department of Labor (NYDOL) has released a finalized sexual harassment prevention policy, poster, complaint form, training materials, and minimum training standards. As anticipated, some of the most onerous requirements have been relaxed.
Notably, employers are now required to provide training to all employees by October 9, 2019 (instead of January 1), and new employees must be trained "as quickly as possible" (instead of within 30 days). Most of the policy and training requirements remain the same, though some have been clarified. Below are the basic requirements.
The entirety of the materials and requirements can be found here.
The state has provided compliant training materials for employers to use free of charge. This includes a PowerPoint presentation, script, and case scenarios.
The training may be presented to employees individually or in groups. It may be presented in person, on the phone, or as a webinar or recorded presentation. The training should do as many of the following as possible to meet the requirement that it be interactive:
- Ask employees questions as part of the program
- Allow employees to ask questions, with answers provided in a timely manner
- Require feedback from employees about the training and the materials presented
The model training released by the NYDOL includes detailed instructions as well as an 18-page script. It is available here.
Employers who choose to deviate from the materials provided by the state must ensure that their training is interactive and includes the following (these requirements have not changed since the draft materials were released):
- An explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the NYDOL
- Examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment
- Information regarding the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment
- Information about employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for resolving complaints
- Information addressing conduct by supervisors and any additional responsibilities for such supervisors
Policy and Complaint Form
The state has provided a model policy, which we recommend employers adopt. It is available here. A model complaint form is available on the same page and should be provided with the policy. Employers must provide every employee with their policy in writing, either on paper or electronically. If employers only provide an electronic copy, employees must be able to print it from a work computer.
The policy requirement goes into effect on October 9, 2018. Current employees should be provided with the policy as soon as possible, and new employees should be provided with the policy immediately upon hire. Although an acknowledgement form is not required by law, we strongly suggest employers collect one from each employee.
Employers who choose to write their own policy must ensure that it does all the following (these requirements have not changed since the draft materials were released):
- Prohibits sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the NYDOL
- Provides examples of prohibited conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment
- Includes 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
- Includes a complaint form
- Includes a procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints that ensures due process for all parties
- Informs employees of their rights of redress and all available forums for resolving sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially
- Clearly states that sexual harassment is considered a form of employee misconduct and that sanctions will be enforced against individuals who engage in sexual harassment and against supervisory and managerial personnel who knowingly allow such behavior
- Clearly states 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 are encouraged but not required to fill out and post the Sexual Harassment Prevention Poster in a conspicuous location in the workplace. A Word document is available for download in the same location as the model policy, here.
New York City Employers
All New York City employers are immediately required to post an anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities poster and distribute fact sheets. The poster can be found here: English Poster, Spanish Poster; and the Fact Sheets can be found here: English Fact Sheet, Spanish Fact Sheet.
For more information regarding compliance with the NYS sexual harassment requirements please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (516) 935-6767.