New York State Passes Sexual Harassment Law with Training and Policy Requirements

New York State Passes Sexual Harassment Law with Training and Policy Requirements

Published: August 30th, 2018

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:

  1. Sexual Harassment Protections Extended to Non-Employees-The law grants protection against sexual harassment for non-employees, such as contractors, subcontractors, vendors and consultants.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:
    1. A statement prohibiting sexual harassment and providing examples of what constitutes sexual harassment.
    2. 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.
    3. A standard complaint form.
    4. Procedures for a timely and confidential investigation of complaints that ensures due process for all parties.
    5. An explanation of employees' external rights of redress and the available administrative and judicial forums for bringing complaints.
    6. 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.
    7. A statement that it is unlawful to retaliate against employees who report sexual harassment or who testify or assist in related proceedings.
  5. 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 following elements:
    1. An explanation of sexual harassment;
    2. Examples of inappropriate unlawful conduct;
    3. Detailed information concerning the federal and state laws concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims; and
    4. Information concerning employees’ right of redress and all available forums for bringing complaints.


Compliance Tips for New York Employers

  1. First, employers should review their existing sexual harassment policies and education for non-employees/contractors in the workforce.
  2. Second, employers should evaluate existing sexual harassment policies and training programs to ensure they meet the new standards and make any necessary revisions.
  3. Additionally, employers should review standard settlement and arbitration agreements in connection with sexual harassment complaints and revise them based on new requirements.
  4. 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