Like the rest of the country, New York businesses must adhere to certain sexual harassment protection requirements in order to maintain compliance and avoid hefty fines and legal trouble. Here is what New York companies should know regarding sexual harassment protections.
New York Sexual Harassment Laws
Businesses in New York must adhere to both federal and state legislation regarding sexual harassment in the workplace.
Generally, there are three requirements that employers in New York State must adhere to regarding sexual harassment in the workplace.
New York's Combating Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Program is in charge of administering these requirements.
Notice to Employees
The first of several employer responsibilities regarding sexual harassment in New York is the responsibility to provide employee notices.
Every employee must receive a sexual harassment prevention notice when they are hired, as well as during their annual sexual harassment prevention training (see below).
These notices should include:
- The sexual harassment policy of the company
- All information presented at the sexual harassment prevention training
Sexual Harassment Policy
Every employer in the state is also required to adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy.
While the state of New York does have a model policy, employers may adopt any policy they wish so long as it meets certain standards and criteria, including:
- A section prohibiting sexual harassment that is equivalent to the guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights
- Examples of prohibited conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment
- Information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions regarding sexual harassment, resources and support that is available to victims of sexual harassment, and a statement that there may be applicable local laws in addition to state and federal
- A complaint form
- Procedures for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints that ensures due process for all parties
- A notice of the employees' rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially
- A statement that clearly states all sexual harassment is considered a form of employee misconduct and that sanctions will be enforced against individuals engaging in sexual harassment and against supervisory and managerial personnel who knowingly allow such behavior to continue
- A statement that clearly states that retaliation against individuals who complain of sexual harassment or who testify or assist in any investigation or proceeding involving sexual harassment is unlawful
Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Requirements
Every employer in the state of New York must provide employees with sexual harassment prevention training, and such training must be done annually.
While the Department of Labor and Division of Human Rights have developed model training programs and resources, an employer may provide their own training program so long as it meets the following requirements:
- The training must be interactive
- It must include an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights
- It must include examples of prohibited conduct
- It must provide information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment as well as the support and resources that are available to victims
- It must provide information concerning employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints
- It must provide information addressing conduct by supervisors and any additional responsibilities for such supervisors
New York employers looking for annual sexual harassment prevention training can inquire about EBC HCM's Core HR services, which include an online training portal that includes sexual harassment training program.
Latest Updates to New York Sexual Harassment Prevention Requirements
The following recent legislative changes have gone into effect regarding sexual harassment prevention, and training in New York State:
- The definition of “employer” has been expanded to include public employers and elected officials that service in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the NYS government
- A toll-free confidential hotline has been established for complainants to report workplace harassment to the New York State Division of Human Rights. Claimants may be put in contact with pro bono attorneys. The target date for this to take into effect is July 14, 2022.
- The statute of limitations for actions brought under the New York State Human Rights Law has been expanded from three (3) years to six (6) years.
- The statute of limitations for filing a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights has been expanded from one (1) year to three (3) years.
- Employers are prohibited from releasing personnel records of employees as a retaliatory action against any employee who complains or assists in proceeding involving unlawful discriminatory practices.
Get Help With Your New York Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
Companies who are having trouble implementing a compliant sexual harassment training program in New York may want to consider reaching out to a New York Human Resources Service Provider for help.
To learn more about the sexual harassment prevention training available through EBC HCM, or to learn more about how EBC is helping countless businesses with HR and compliance management, contact us today.