New Sexual Harassment Rules – New York State Rules Become Effective in October

As you know, New York State passed a comprehensive set of laws governing sexual harassment. All employers, regardless of size, will have to implement a series of sexual harassment policies and programs.  During the last session, New York passed several new laws requiring that all companies adopt mandatory training and sexual harassment policies:

Employers Are Required to Have a Written Sexual Harassment Policy (Beginning in October 2018)

The new law requires employers adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy which:

  • Prohibits sexual harassment and provides examples of prohibited conduct;
  • Includes information concerning federal, state and local sexual harassment laws
  • Includes a standard complaint form
  • Includes a procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints
  • Informs employees of their rights
  • States sexual harassment is a form of employee misconduct and that sanctions will be enforced against individuals and against supervisory management who knowingly allow such behavior to continue;
  • States retaliation against individuals who complain of sexual harassment or who testify or assist in any proceedings is unlawful.

Annual Training Required

Employers must offer interactive training that includes:

  • Explanation of sexual harassment
  • Examples of sexual harassment
  • Information about federal, state and local laws concerning sexual harassment
  • Information concerning employees’ rights of redress and forums for complaints.

Employers in New York should also note the new law expands protection to non-employees such as vendors, contractors, etc. this significantly expands the scope and reach of the law.

Non-Disclosure Agreements Prohibited

The New York State law also prohibits non-disclosure clauses in any settlement or other agreement regarding sexual harassment unless the condition of confidentiality is the complainant’s preference.  This prohibition on non-disclosure agreements means employers will no longer be able to settle these types of cases in secret.  The new law further requires the complainant be given 21 days to consider the non-disclosure clause and 7 days to revoke it.

Department of Labor Releases Model Policy, Training Program Guidelines and Complaint Forms.

Last week, the New York State Department of Labor (DOL), with the help of the New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR), released drafts of the model sexual harassment prevention policy, complaint form, and harassment prevention training program. It also released a set of FAQ’s as well as documents setting forth the minimum requirements for sexual harassment prevention policies and training programs.  Public comments on the new rules are due September 12th.   So far these documents are not finalized.  Nonetheless, they are sufficiently complete to give stations a sense of their new obligations.

The New York State Department of Labor is working on a webinar to explain the new rules.   Stations should start to become familiar with the requirements. 

All of the rules and regulations can be found on the New York State Department of Labor’s website. To see a one page description of the employers legal obligations click HERE.

To see the general website focusing on the employer’s obligations click HERE.

To see a draft of the Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy that companies may have to adopt click HERE.

To see the minimum standards necessary for a company’s sexual harassment policy click HERE.

To see a draft of the proposed complaint form click HERE.

To see a draft of the proposed Model Training Program click HERE.

To see Frequently Asked Questions click HERE.