New York Employers Face Strict New Sexual Harassment Laws
In response to the transformation that the #MeToo movement has had in our society and on workplace culture, New York and New York City passed what many are referring to the country’s most stringent workplace sexual harassment laws, which went into effect on October 9. Both the city and state regulations require employers to conduct annual training geared towards preventing sexual harassment, as well as to make these new policies visible in the workplace, as we discuss below.
What the New Law Requires
The new law requires the following:
- Within New York City, employees undergo training within 90 days, and employers must distribute a fact sheet on sexual harassment;
- Employees throughout New York State in general have one year – or until October 9, 2019 – to complete the training;
- Every employer in New York must have a particular written sexual harassment policy in place and distributed to all employees by October 9. That policy must include, at a minimum, a statement prohibiting sexual harassment and providing examples of what it looks like, what federal and state law dictate, a complaint form, a procedure for timely and confidential investigations into complaints, information concerning employee rights of redress, and a statement declaring that retaliation against individuals who complain of sexual harassment or who testify or assist is unlawful;
- Prevention training requirements apply to all employers – regardless of size;
- The training must be conducted annually and has to enable a “live trainer” to be available during the training session to answer questions, as well as obtain feedback from employees;
- Any employers who have employees that go into New York – even if they are located out of state – must comply with the training requirements as well; and
- A poster educating everyone about anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities must be displayed in both English and Spanish.
Although a number of employers already have policies in place, these policies must be reviewed in order to ensure that they comply with the new rules. However, employers can rely on a model policy created by the New York State Department of Labor and Division and Human Rights.
At least half of all small business owners in New York are currently unaware of the new rules because there hasn’t been a lot of outreach or notification to business owners of the changes. Those that are aware are now scrambling to find the time and resources to incorporate the new requirements. Some experts have also noted that, in order to comply, the training effectively has to go well beyond sexual harassment training and also ensure that discrimination based on age, disability, gender, and race – i.e. each protected category – are also covered.
Contact Our New York Legal Experts to Ensure You Are In Compliance With the Law
If you own or run a business in New York and are concerned that you could run afoul of new legal requirements, contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys at the office of Phillip J. Murphy today to ensure that you are in compliance and not potentially facing an audit, investigation, citation and/or fines for not complying with sexual harassment laws.