New York State Finalizes Its Guidance on New Sexual Harassment Prevention Laws
On October 1, 2018, New York State released final guidance on the state’s new sexual harassment prevention laws. As we previously reported (here and here), new legislation passed in April 2018 aimed at curtailing workplace sexual harassment impacts how employers train and educate their workforces. The new legislation requires all employers in New York State, even those with a single NY employee, to publish policies concerning sexual harassment, adopt a sexual harassment complaint form, and conduct sexual harassment training.
In August 2018, the state published drafts of guidance materials concerning the new legislation, including a model sexual harassment prevention policy, a model complaint form, and model training materials. The state accepted public comments on these materials and, in the October 1, 2018 final guidance, made several changes as a result. Notable changes include:
• Employers have additional time to ensure all employees receive the required sexual harassment training. Training must now be completed by October 9, 2019, rather than the original January 1, 2019 deadline.
• New hires must be trained “as soon as possible.” Previously, the draft guidance specified new hires should be trained within 30 days of their start date.
• The model sexual harassment prevention policy was modified in several respects, including:
o The definition of harassment was amended to include harassment based on “self-identified or perceived sex” and “gender expression.”
o “Sex stereotyping” was added as an example of sexual harassment.
o The language concerning investigations was softened, with the policy now noting the investigation process “may vary from case to case.”
• The model complaint form was shortened to omit questions concerning whether the employee filed an external complaint or retained an attorney.
While the state has published “model” documents, it is not necessary that employers adopt these particular documents, so long as an employer’s policy and training materials meet the minimum criteria set out in the law.
Barclay Damon is working with clients to develop and deliver customized policies and training materials that meet the state’s mandatory criteria, and is ready to assist clients as they implement the state’s requirements.
If you have questions regarding the information presented in this alert, please contact Megan E. Bahas, counsel, at firstname.lastname@example.org.