New York Issues Guidance on New Sexual Harassment Law’s Requirements
Earlier this year, I discussed New York State’s new sexual harassment law, which goes into effect on October 9, 2018. In anticipation of the law going into effect, the State posted drafts of a model sexual harassment policy, model complaint form and a model sexual harassment training program on its website last week to assist employers in complying with the new law.
With respect to the policy requirements, employers should not assume that their current policy will necessarily be in compliance with the new law. While most employers will find that their policies meet most of the requirements of the law, there are some requirements that are typically not included in standard policies. For example, the law requires a statement informing employees of their rights and redress and all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially. In other words, the policy needs to instruct the employee how to file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights or the EEOC. For this reason, employers need to carefully review their current policies and ensure that each element required by the law is present. Some employers may simply choose to adopt the model policy as their own.
Additionally, while many employers probably have policies that set forth complaint procedures that offer multiple avenues for making complaints, I suspect that only a handful of employers have developed an actual form that employees can use to make a written complaint of harassment. Under the new law, this is required. Employers may want to consider using the draft form on the government’s website.
The new law also requires employers to provide “interactive” training to all employees on a yearly basis and to new employees no later than 30 days after they have been hired. Training for all current employees will need to be completed by January 1, 2019. Here again, the State has provided a model training program on its website that employers can use to comply with the program. It’s a pretty good program at least for the first go around. However, employers will probably want to update the materials and hypotheticals on a yearly basis rather than do the exact same program every year.
Finally, in addition to complying with the new State sexual harassment law, employers in New York City will also need to comply with the City’s new harassment law by posting the City’s anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities poster in English and Spanish and distributing the fact sheet issued by the NYCCHR. Under the New York City law, this posting must be in place by September 6, 2018.