Updates to New York State’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Requirements
As previously discussed in our blog, New York State recently published draft materials related to the new legislation expanding protections against sexual harassment in the workplace.
On October 1, 2018, New York State released final model sexual harassment materials and compliance guidance following the comment period.
To help you keep up with the many changes in the law, we have prepared this list of updates.
Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy
New employees should receive the employer’s compliant anti-sexual harassment policy before they begin work.
Policy and training materials must be provided in the language spoken by the employer’s employees. The State will be translating its model materials and employers who choose not to use the State model materials are required to translate their materials accordingly.
The deadline for providing compliant trainings to employees was moved from January 1, 2019 to October 9, 2019.
Note: New York City’s deadline for compliant training is April 1, 2019 for employers with 15 or more employees.
New employees now must be trained “as soon as possible,” instead of within 30 days.
Employers are under no obligation to train third party vendors, contractors or other non-employees, however, the state encourages employers to post a copy of their policy in an area that will be visible to such parties.
There is no minimum number of training hours as long as the training meets or exceeds the minimum standards.
Employees must be trained even if they are based in another state and work only a portion of their time in New York State.
Minor employees (such as child actors) must be trained.
Employers are required to compensate employees for compliant training hours as regular work hours.
Sections in the model training material that are not expressly required by the law are not mandatory but are recommended.
The State has provided a new poster for employers to post in a visible common area in the workplace. The poster template provides where the employer’s policy and complaint form can be accessed as well as contact information for submission and receipt of employee complaints.
Relatedly, Complaint forms no longer need to be part of employer policies as long as employees know where the form is located.
Any non-disclosure agreement that covers sexual harassment claims or their underlying facts must be executed in two parts. The first part must acknowledge that it is the employee’s preference to enter such agreement and that the employee is being given 21 days to consider the agreement and 7 days to revoke consent after the 21-day period has expired. The second part must be executed after the 21-day period.
Next Steps for Employers
Employers should review their anti-sexual harassment policies with the assistance of counsel to ensure compliance with the model policy published by the state.
While employees may adopt the model policy, they need not adopt all provisions but only comply with the minimum standards. Employers should review the model provisions to ensure compatibility with the employer’s existing policies and practices.
Employers are required to be in compliance by updating and distributing the policy by October 9, 2018.
Employees are required to conduct training for all employees by October 9, 2019.
There are additional requirements beginning on April 1, 2019 for employers with employees working in New York City as they are also subject to the Stop Sexual Harassment in New York City Act.