The new NYS sexual harassment laws are going to be active in October 2018.
For years, several states have required sexual harassment training.
New York State and New York City have joined this movement and now requires sexual harassment training.
This past April, New York Governor Cuomo mandated that employers provide employees with annual sexual harassment training. In addition to the training, a written anti-harassment policy, a complaint form and an interactive quiz with state required case studies must be given to employees starting in October.
What’s in the New Sexual Harassment Policy
The new law requires employers to adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy which must cover eight different aspects. The policy must also be available to all employers in writing. The policy must:
- Prohibit sexual harassment and provide examples of prohibited conduct.
- Give examples of prohibited conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment.
- Include information on federal, state and local sexual harassment laws.
- Include a standard complaint form.
- Introduce the topic of a timely and confidential investigation of complaints including due process for all parties.
- Informs employees of their rights of redress and available forums for adjudicating claims administratively and judicially;
- Clearly states sexual harassment is a form of employee misconduct and that sanctions will be enforced against individuals engaging in sexual harassment and against supervisory management who knowingly allow such behavior to continue;
- Clearly states retaliation against individuals who complain of sexual harassment or who testify or assist in any proceedings is unlawful.
Topics Training Must Cover
Employers must provide sexual harassment prevention training. An employer that does not use the model training developed by the Department of Labor and Division of Human Rights must ensure that the training that they use meets or exceeds the following minimum standards
The training must interactive and include:
- The explanation and definition of sexual harassment.
- Examples of sexual harassment.
- Information concerning the federal and state laws concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims.
- Information concerning employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints
- Information addressing conduct by supervisors and any additional responsibilities for such supervisors
While is it is not explicitly stated in the new law, it would be in your best interest to keep a written log of who has completed the training and when. This would be very helpful if the employer finds themselves defending against allegations of sexual harassment.
The new law also adds protection to people who are not your direct employees. This means you are also responsible to protect interns, vendors, contractors, etc. from sexual harassment. This new change to the law can open employers to a lot more risk, so you need to be prepared for that!
Don’t Waste Time
Now is time to review your anti-harassment policies and see if they comply with the new laws. You also need to make sure you have a plan to train both existing and future employees, both annually and when initially hired.
We just finished putting this all together for Law Firm Suites. In all, it took about 1.5 days to write the policy, record & edit a training video and make an online quiz. The deadline for these new requirements is October 9th. So if you have not started putting your material together for this new sexual harassment policy then you need to get started right away.
We used a video recording to do the training because once it is saved an uploaded, the training can then be done digitally. Plus then once the time comes to do the annual training, all you have to do is rewatch the video instead of physically taking a day to lead the training again.
To find more information about the new New York State sexual harassment law and requirements, follow this link.