September 16, 2019

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New York’s New Sexual Harassment Law

Sexual Harassment

State Issues Guidance for Compliance

In April 2018, New York passed a new sexual harassment law. To ensure that employers are in compliance with the new legislation, the state issued draft materials and guidance in August 2018.

The draft guidance includes:

  • A model complaint form that employees should use when reporting sexual harassment
  • A model sexual harassment policy for employers to adapt
  • A model training program for sexual harassment prevention
  • FAQs regarding the new state law on sexual harassment

The model documents are provided for employers to adapt to their organizations. Employers can establish individualized policies, training programs and forms to meet the minimum standards of workplace sexual harassment prevention as required of both private and public organizations in the state.

Model Policy

The model policy provided by the state provides:

  • A comprehensive definition of what sexual harassment is based on the new legislation
  • Examples of what would constitute sexual harassment
  • Information about how employees can report sexual harassment both within their organization as well as to the New York State Division of Human Rights, the local police department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The policy is accompanied by a model complaint form. This model complaint form may be adapted by companies to provide employees with a way to report sexual harassment.

Training Guide

In order to establish a sexual harassment prevention policy in the workplace, employers must train their employees on sexual harassment prevention. The state’s model training guide is a 24-page document that provides guidance to employers on the minimum standards for training their employees.

The training guide includes:

  • A checklist for the minimum standards for the training program
  • A script that employers can use for training employees on sexual harassment prevention
  • Sexual harassment case studies as well as hypothetical scenarios of sexual harassment

According to the guide, the sexual harassment prevention training provided by the employer should be interactive. It encourages employers to make use of the following four elements as much as is possible:

  • Web-based training that includes questions asked of employees
  • Accommodation for asking questions by employees
  • A live trainer for question and answer sessions
  • Feedback from employees on the training and the materials they were presented with

Employers are not required to adopt the model training guide as it is. They can tailor it to meet or exceed the state’s minimum standards.

In Conclusion

Employers need to be careful in ensuring their compliance with the new sexual harassment law. It is best to seek guidance and legal counsel in determining what the minimum standards are, and how you can ensure compliance.

If you or someone you know is in need of a sexual harassment attorney, search for an experienced law firm in New York City now.

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