The deadline has arrived! New York Legislators have passed a number of initiatives in the wake of the #MeToo movement.  New York State officially joined the fight against reforming sexual harassment policies in the workplace by issuing the final guidance on the strictest prevention laws the state has seen to date. Effective as of October 9, 2018, employers in New York will be expected to adapt to the new anti-sexual harassment laws under Section 201-G of the New York State Labor Laws focused on providing new policies and training to help further protect our employees and independent contractors on the job.

New York’s New Sexual Harassment Laws

me too movement

In April, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new law requiring a massive change in the New York workplace regarding how employers educate and train their employees on reducing harmful acts of sexual harassment. Utilizing public commenting periods over the past few months to gain insight into the struggles workers and employers are facing on this matter, state officials issued the finalized materials on October 1, 2018, that employers must adopt to remain compliant with the new laws in order to continue business operations in New York.

The new sexual harassment law applies to:

  • all employers, regardless of company size, who employ individuals in the State of New York, even if they are located outside of the state;
  • all contractors who bid on New York State contracts;
  • all employees, not just supervisors; and
  • all training programs, with required annual training on the subject matter.

Major Policy Changes To Notice

Employers can use the state modeled sexual harassment policy or create their own, but certain information must be included regardless of which direction they choose. According to an article published by the The National Law Review, workplace sexual harassment policies going forward must include working pertaining to:

  • prohibiting sexual harassment in accordance to the New York State Department of Labor and Division of Human Rights laws and policies;
  • the inclusion of information explaining the local, state, and federal provisions regarding laws and consequences of sexual harassment;
  • the inclusion of a standard complaint form for victims;
  • inclusion investigations procedures to be taken;
  • information for employees on their full rights regarding sexual harassment reporting;
  • clearly stating that sexual harassment is a form of employee misconduct and the consequences for participating; and
  • clearly stating that retaliation against individuals who complain is unlawful.

For more information on the full policy changes required, employers can visit the page https://www.ny.gov/programs/combating-sexual-harassment-workplace explaining the new Combating Sexual Harassment in the Workplace program.

What New York Employers Must Know

Employers in New York must begin complying with the new sexual harassment laws starting today to meet the future deadlines set by state officials. The pertinent deadlines for New York State and New York City are as follows:

New York State:

October 9, 2018: Employers begin implementing new policy and training requirements.

October 9, 2019: All employees must be trained on new policies created.

New York City:

April 1, 2019: Employers begin implementing new policy and training requirements.

April 1, 2020: All employees must be trained on new policies created.

More details on how employers can comply with the policy and training deadlines can be found here. For employers who need guidance on where to begin with reforming their sexual harassment policies, The National Law Reviews suggests:

  • Reviewing current policies in the workplace and revise based on the new requirements for sexual harassment laws.
  • Create a complaint form, or use the state model, if not already used in the policy.
  • Translate all new policies into multiple languages used in the workplace.
  • Provide the new policy and complaint form to all current employees immediately.
  • Provide the new policy and complaint form to all new employees before they begin.

Stop Sexual Harassment in New York

Sexual harassment on the job is inappropriate and unacceptable. Every New York worker has the right to a safe and healthy workplace. If you or a loved one has suffered as a victim of unwanted sexual advances while at work, the law firm of Siler & Ingber is here to fight back for you in this sensitive time. Our winning attorneys will provide a free case evaluation to review your options for seeking justice against inappropriate co-workers or management.  Contact us at 1-877-529-4343 for a free consultation.