A BRIEF BY COMPREHENSIVE OVERVIEW OF WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO COMPLY WITH THE NEWLY ENACTED NEW YORK STATE AND NEW YORK CITY SEXUAL HARASSMENT TRAINING LAWS
Author: CHRISTOPHER L. VAN DE WATER, ESQ. MANAGING PARTNER
In 2018, both New York State and New York City have enacted the strictest harassment training laws in the Nation as a clear outgrowth of the #MeToo movement that swept the country following the Harvey Weinstein scandal. All Employers must begin compliance with the New York State Law commencing on October 1, 2019, and the New York City Law on April 1, 2019.
I. 2018 New York State Budget Sexual Harassment Training Provisions Contained within Part KK of S7507-C
On April 12, 2018 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law several bills that were included in the 2018-2019 New York State budget. The bills address workplace sexual harassment. Part KK of S7507-C 0g the new law requires New York employers to adopt and distribute a sexual harassment policy and training program.
The new requirements take effect October 9, 2018.
A. Content Requirements of the New York State Sexual Harassment Policy:
More specifically, the new law requires employers adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy which:
This sexual harassment policy must then be provided to all of your employees in writing. It would be advisable to include this policy in your orientation package. You should should informally and formally routinely remind employees of this policy.
You can read the New York State’s sexual harassment laws in their entirety (Part KK of S7507-C) by clicking here
B. Training Requirements of the New York State Sexual Harassment Policy:
The New York State Law also mandates that employers provide interactive training to their employees that includes the following:
1) an explanation of sexual harassment;
2) examples of sexual harassment;
3) information concerning the federal and state laws concerning sexualharassment and remedies available to victims; and
4) information concerning employees’ rights of redress and forums forcomplaints.
Although there is no record keeping requirement under the law, I strongly advise your company to formally track, in a signed form, your employees’ attendance at the training. This type of evidence is helpful in defending against potential allegations of sexual harassment, and will serve to mitigate your risk against frivilous lawsuits.
C. Model Sexual Harassment Policy and Training Program
The law also requires the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) and the New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) to develop a model policy and training program for employers.
II. The Stop Sexual Harassment in New York City Act
The Stop Sexual Harassment in New York City Act was signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio on May 9, 2018 and expands the reach of the New York City Human Rights Law in cases involving gender-based harassment.
A. The Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Law Amends New York City Human Rights Law by:
1) applying provisions related to gender-based discrimination to ALL employers, regardless of the number of employeess;
2) increasing the statute of limitations from one-year to three-years for filing a claim of gender-based discrimination with the NYC Commission on Human Rights;
3) mandating employers with 15 or more employees to conduct annual anti- sexual harassment training to all employees, including managers and supervisors.
4) for new employees who work more than 80 hours in a year, such training much be provided within 90 days of their initial hire. This requirement is effective April 1, 2019.B. Training Requirements of the New York City Act:
The New York City Stop Sexual Harassment Act requires that every employer’s sexual harassment training must:
1) provide an explanation and example of sexual harassment as a form of unlawful discrimination under NYC law;
2) state sexual harassment is unlawful under both Federal and New York State laws;
3) provide a detailed description of what sexual harassment is;
4) identify the employer’s internal complaint process;
5) state the complaint process that is available through the NYC Commissionon Human Rights, the NYS Division of Human Rights and the EEOC,including all relevant contact information;
6) explain the prohibition against retaliation against an employee by anemployer;
7) provide information concerning bystander intervention (i.e., such as suggestions about how to confront a harasser); and
8) identify the specific responsibilities that supervisors and managerial employees have in the prevention of sexual harassment and retaliation.
9) keep employee’s training acknowledgment forms for three years.
The New York City training requirements begin on April 1, 2019. The training must be provided annually and, in the case of a new employee hire, within 90 days thereof.
Starting September 6, 2018, all New York City employers are required to post a sexual harassment poster and distribute a sexual harassment fact sheet to all new employees.
Additionally, under the New York City Law, employers are required to keep training acknowledgment forms for 3 years.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE NYC AND NEW YORK STATE NEW SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAWS
The two tables below detail the obligations and the differences between the New York State and New York City laws regarding: