Legal Alert: Final Changes to the New York Laws Related to Sexual Harassment Claims Go Into Effect on October 9, 2018

As you have learned in previous Pro Bono Partnership legal alerts, which you can find here and here, New York State has substantially amended its laws related to the prevention of sexual harassment, including requiring all New York employers to implement updated sexual harassment prevention policies and to provide employees with annual sexual harassment prevention training. These final changes to the laws governing sexual harassment claims in New York go into effect on October 9, 2018.

What do the new laws require? 

The new laws require all New York employers to adopt a 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 to adopt a policy that equals or exceeds the requirements in the state’s model policy. The policy must also include a sexual harassment complaint form. The model policy can be found here, and a model complaint form can be found here.

The new law also requires New York employers to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to employees. The DOL, again with the DHR, has created a model training program which can be found here.

Employers may also use their own training program so long as the training meets or exceeds the requirements set forth in the state’s model training. Of interest to most employers are some of the clarifications that the issuance of the model training provided, specifically, that employers must provide all of their employees with sexual harassment prevention training by January 1, 2019, and that new employees must be trained within 30 days of hire.

Please note that the model policy, training, complaint form and FAQs (referenced below) were subject to public comment, which closed on September 12. This means that there could still be some changes or clarifications to these documents. The Partnership will keep you up to date with any substantive changes.

What Should You Do Now?

  • Employers should ensure that they understand the implications of these new laws. The state has published some FAQS which can be found here. Pro Bono Partnership, in collaboration with the law firm Jackson Lewis, is hosting a webinar on the topic on September 26 at noon.Register for the event here.
  • Employers should review the state’s model documents to determine whether their current sexual harassment prevention policies meet or exceed the new requirements. If they do not, employers should determine whether they will use the state’s models or will implement their own policies.
  • Employers should make plans to provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees by January 1, 2019.

If you have questions about this new legislation, please contact your Pro Bono Partnership attorney at 914-328-0674.