New York State Passes Sexual Harassment Law with Training and Policy Requirements
The State of New York has signed into law a
bill designed to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. The sweeping new
legislation includes the requirement of sexual harassment policies and sexual
harassment training for New York State employers. Those organizations who do
not have prevention guidelines, anti-harassment policies, and training programs
in place should develop and implement them immediately.
Additional highlights of this legislation
are detailed below:
- Sexual Harassment
Protections Extended to Non-Employees-The law grants protection against sexual harassment for
non-employees, such as contractors, subcontractors, vendors and consultants.
- Mandatory Arbitration
Agreements for Sexual Harassment Claims Prohibited- On July 11, 2018, New York employers cannot require employees to
submit their sexual harassment claims to mandatory arbitration, even if
agreements to arbitrate such claims were in place prior to the effective date
of the law. Many expect this to be challenged as being pre-empted by the
Federal Arbitration Act.
- Confidential Settlement
Agreements for Sexual Harassment Claims Prohibited Without Complainant Consent- Effective July 11, 2018, employers are
prohibited from including a non-disclosure provision in settlements agreements
for sexual harassment claims without complainant consent.
- Required Sexual
Harassment Policies- Starting October 9, 2018,
all employers in New York must adopt a written sexual-harassment prevention
policy and distribute it to employees. State agencies will provide a model
policy that employers may elect to use. The sexual harassment prevention policy
must contain the following elements:
- A statement prohibiting sexual
harassment and providing examples of what constitutes sexual harassment.
- Information about federal and
state sexual-harassment laws and the remedies that are available to victims—and
a statement that there may be additional local laws on the matter.
- A standard complaint form.
- Procedures for a timely and
confidential investigation of complaints that ensures due process for all
- An explanation of employees'
external rights of redress and the available administrative and judicial forums
for bringing complaints.
- A statement that sexual
harassment is a form of employee misconduct and that sanctions will be enforced
against those who engage in sexual harassment and against supervisors who knowingly
allow such behavior to continue.
- A statement that it is unlawful
to retaliate against employees who report sexual harassment or who testify or
assist in related proceedings.
- Required Sexual
Harassment Training– The legislation also requires the state to develop a model sexual
harassment prevention training program and requires employers to either implement
the state-approved model or their own model compliant with state standards on
an annual basis. The training program must be interactive, and contain the
- An explanation of sexual
- Examples of inappropriate
- Detailed information concerning
the federal and state laws concerning sexual harassment and remedies available
to victims; and
- Information concerning
employees’ right of redress and all available forums for bringing complaints.
Tips for New York Employers
- First, employers should review their existing
sexual harassment policies and education for non-employees/contractors in the
- Second, employers should evaluate existing
sexual harassment policies and training programs to ensure they meet the new standards
and make any necessary revisions.
- Additionally, employers should review
standard settlement and arbitration agreements in connection with sexual
harassment complaints and revise them based on new requirements.
- Finally, employers are encouraged to
work with compliance experts for assistance with the development and implementation
of policies and processes that make sense for their companies.
The compliance experts at Medsafe offer training
that meets the New York state requirements along with assistance and guidance
in compliant policy.
Contact us with questions at:
Toll-free: (888) MED-SAFE