New York State has enacted a new law regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. Effective October 9, 2018, all NYS employers must adopt written sexual harassment prevention policies and implement annual anti-harassment training for employees. Every employer, regardless of size, must implement a policy that includes guidance and instructions for filing a complaint of sexual harassment or discrimination. The law applies to full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees.
Employees are not required to submit written acknowledgment of their receipt of the policy, but employers are encouraged to obtain written acceptance from employees. Employers must provide employees with a copy of the policy in writing or electronically, and if electronic, employees must be able to print a copy for their personal records.
All employers, by October 9, 2018, must adopt either New York State’s model anti-harassment policy or a customized adaptation of their own policy. The following minimum standards must be implemented:
- Prohibit sexual harassment consistent with the guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights;
- Provide examples of prohibited conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment;
- Include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment, remedies available to victims of sexual harassment, and a statement that there may be applicable local laws;
- Include a complaint form;
- Include a procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints, ensuring due process for all parties;
- Inform employees of their rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially;
- Clearly state that sexual harassment is considered a form of employee misconduct and that sanctions will be imposed against individuals engaging in sexual harassment and against supervisory and managerial personnel who knowingly allow such behavior to continue; and
- Clearly state that retribution against individuals who complain of sexual harassment or who testify or assist in any investigation or proceeding involving sexual harassment is unlawful.
- All current employees must undergo sexual harassment training no later than October 9, 2019;
- New hires must undergo training as soon as possible; and
- Future training must be completed on an annual basis.
New York State provides a Model Complaint Form for Reporting Sexual Harassment, as well as a Combating Sexual Harassment: FAQ.