A new legislative package requires that starting on October 9, 2019, employers in New York State must adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy and training or use a similar policy and training that meet or exceed the law’s minimum standards. The following minimum standards include:

The policy must:

  •    prohibit sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights
  •    provide examples of prohibited conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment
  •    include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment, remedies available to victims of sexual harassment, and a statement that there may be applicable local laws
  •    include a complaint form
  •       include a procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints that ensures due process for all parties
  •       inform employees of their rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially
  •       clearly state that 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
  •       clearly state that retaliation against individuals who complain of sexual harassment or who testify or assist in any investigation or proceeding involving sexual harassment is unlawful

The state provides a draft Sexual Harassment Policy for All Employers in New York State: https://www.ny.gov/sites/ny.gov/files/atoms/files/StatewideSexualHarassment_PreventionPolicy.pdf

It is also mandated that every employer provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to its employees. This training must be completed by January 1, 2019. If new employees start after January 1, they must complete the training within 30 calendar days of starting their job. If an employer chooses to not use the model training developed by the Department of Labor and Division of Human Rights, the employer must ensure that the training used meets or exceeds the following minimum standards:

The training must:

  •    be interactive
  •    include an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights
  •    include examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment
  •    include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment
  •    include information concerning employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints
  •    include information addressing conduct by supervisors and any additional responsibilities for such supervisors

The State provides a Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Training handbook: https://www.ny.gov/sites/ny.gov/files/atoms/files/SexualHarassmentDRAFTModelTraining.pdf

Employers must provide the policy to their employees in writing; this may be done electronically, but workers must be able to access the policy on a computer provided by the employer during work time and be able to print a copy for their records.