Legal Alert: Final Changes to the New York Laws Related to Sexual Harassment Claims Go Into Effect on October 9, 2018 Final Model Documents Drafted by the NY Department of Labor Have Been Issued

As you have learned in previous Pro Bono Partnership legal alerts, which you can find here, here, and here, New York State has substantially amended its laws related to the prevention of sexual harassment. Among other things, these changes require all New York employers to implement updated sexual harassment prevention policies and to provide employees with annual sexual harassment prevention training. The policy and training requirements go into effect on October 9, 2018. On October 1, 2018, the New York State Department of Labor issued its final guidance and model documentation on this topic.

What do the new laws require? 

The new laws require all New York employers to either (1) adopt the model sexual harassment prevention policy that has been drafted by the Department of Labor (“DOL”), with consultation from the Division of Human Rights (“DHR”), or (2) adopt a policy that equals or exceeds the requirements in the state’s model policy. The policy must include a sexual harassment complaint form.

The new law also requires New York employers to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to all employees who conduct work in New York State.

The DOL, again with the DHR, has created a model training program. Employers may use the state’s model training or use their own training program, so long as the training meets or exceeds the requirements set forth in the state’s model training.

The state’s model policy, model complaint form, and model training materials can all be found here.

The state’s model policy, complaint form, training materials and FAQs were not final when the Partnership’s most recent legal alert on this topic was issued. On October 1, the DOL issued the final documents with some substantial changes that benefit employers. Notably, employers will now be required to complete the first round of annual sexual harassment prevention training by October 9, 2019, rather than by January 1, 2019, as was stated in the previous version of the state’s FAQs. In addition, employers will no longer be required to train new employees within 30 days of hire. Instead, employers should train new employees as soon as possible. The final version of the state’s FAQs can be found here. They are comprehensive and should address many questions about the implementation of
the new laws.

What Should You Do Now?

  • Employers should review the state’s model documents to determine whether their current sexual harassment prevention policies and complaint procedures meet or exceed the new requirements. If they do not, employers should determine whether they will use the state’s models or will revise and implement their own policies. The DOL has issued a tool kit to help employers determine if their current sexual harassment prevention policy meets the new requirements, which can be found hereIn addition, the Partnership has created a sample policy that you can find here. We are providing this sample policy for informational purposes only and remind organizations that they will need to tailor it to their specific needs and locations.
  • Once an employer has finalized a policy and a complaint form, the documents should be distributed to all employees who conduct any work in New York by October 9, 2018. 
  • Employers should make plans to provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees who conduct any work in New York by October 9, 2019.

If you have questions about this new legislation, please contact Jennifer Grudnowski,
Senior Staff Attorney, at 914-328-0674.