Following nationwide attention on sexual harassment in the workplace, both New York State and New York City have taken significant steps towards strengthening protections against sexual harassment on the job.
New York State:
One new law requires all New York employers to conduct mandatory, annual sexual harassment training, beginning October 9, 2018.
At a minimum, the training program must be interactive, explain what constitutes sexual harassment, provide examples of conduct constituting unlawful sexual harassment, provide information on remedies available to victims under federal and state laws concerning sexual harassment, and provide information on employees’ rights and all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints. Employers must also implement a policy on sexual harassment, which must meet certain minimum requirements outlined in the new law.
The law also contains several other measures to combat sexual harassment, including:
- Effective immediately, expanding the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”) to provide for employer liability for sexual harassment of non-employees, such as contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants or other individuals providing services under a contract in the workplace. This is a significant expansion of the NYSHRL, which previously protected only employees.
- Effective July 11, 2018, prohibiting nondisclosure or confidentiality provisions in agreements that seek to settle claims relating to sexual harassment, unless it is the complaining party who seeks confidentiality and provided that the complaining party has 21 days to consider the nondisclosure provision and 7 days to revoke his/her acceptance of the nondisclosure provision.
- Effective July 11, 2018, prohibiting mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment claims, unless such arbitration clauses are contained in collective bargaining agreements.
New York City:
Employers who operate in New York City are also expected to comply with the Stop Sexual Harassment in New York City Act, which was signed into effect by Mayor de Blasio on May 9, 2018. The law contains its own training requirements aimed at sexual harassment prevention and applies to NYC employers with at least 15 employees.
Specifically, starting April 1, 2019, NYC employers must conduct annual interactive training on sexual harassment for all employees and interns who work more than 80 hours a year. Among other things, this training must define and provide examples of sexual harassment, explain federal, state and local anti-harassment laws, describe the employer’s internal complaint process as well as the complaint process available through various administrative agencies such as the New York City Commission on Human Rights (Commission), and define and provide examples of prohibited retaliation.
Starting September 6, 2018, NYC employers will also be required to post and display anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities posters. The poster will be made available by the Commission.
Starting immediately, the New York City Human Rights Law has been amended to expand coverage of sexual harassment claims to employers with fewer than four employees. Previously, only employers with four or more employees were covered by the law. In addition, starting immediately, the period of time to file sexual harassment claims with the Commission is extended from one year to three years.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to the firm to assist in modifying your company's internal procedures to comply with these directives.