In April 2018, we reported on New York State’s enactment of a new law aimed at preventing sexual harassment. We summarized this new law in detail in our legal update, New York employers should get ready to comply with New York State’s new sexual harassment prevention laws, and our Global Workplace Insider article, New York State’s new sexual harassment prevention laws will require action by all New York employers.  Under this law, New York State employers will need to comply with the following new requirements, among others:

  • By October 9, 2018, every New York State employer (regardless of size and including those who employ only domestic and household employees) is required to adopt an anti-sexual harassment policy that meets specified requirements; and
  • Before January 1, 2019, every New York State employer is required to conduct interactive sexual harassment prevention training that meets specified requirements. Thereafter, all new New York State employees must complete such training within 30 calendar days of beginning employment, and all New York State employees must receive such training at least once per year.

Recent New York State guidance on sexual harassment prevention measures

New York State has recently issued additional guidance on this new law, including a draft model anti-sexual harassment policy and complaint form, a draft training module, and draft frequently asked questions.  All of this guidance is in draft form, and the public can provide comments on the drafts on or before September 12, 2018.  Presumably, New York State will issue final guidance sometime after the end of the comment period and before the October 9, 2018 deadline for adopting a compliant anti-sexual harassment policy.  New York State employers who do not adopt the model documents issued by New York State can adopt individually tailored policies and training modules, as long as they meet the minimum requirements of the New York State law.  For this purpose, New York State issued documents summarizing the law’s minimum standards for sexual harassment prevention policies and training.  Note that there are certain provisions in the New York State draft model policy that seem to go beyond the minimum standards required of New York State employers, so for this and other reasons, employers may prefer to customize their own policies.  Additionally, it is unclear how far in advance of the October 9, 2018 deadline New York State will issue its final guidance and final model policy.  Accordingly, New York State employers will want to begin working now to get their policies into compliance by the October 9, 2018 deadline. 

Draft model anti-sexual harassment policy and complaint form

New York State’s draft model anti-sexual harassment policy can be found here:

New York State’s draft model sexual harassment complaint form can be found here:

New York State’s summary of minimum standards for anti-sexual harassment policies can be found here:

Draft model anti-sexual harassment training module

New York State’s draft anti-sexual harassment training module can be found here:

New York State’s summary of minimum standards for anti-sexual harassment training can be found here:

Draft frequently asked questions

New York State’s draft frequently asked questions (FAQs) can be found here:

Among other things, the draft FAQs state that employers can provide the required anti-sexual harassment policy to employees electronically, but only if the employees can access the employer’s policy on a computer provided by the employer during work time and are able to print a copy for their records.  For some employers, this may mean that at least some of their workforce may not be provided the policy electronically.

Next steps for New York State employers

Between now and October 9, 2018, all New York State employers should update their anti-harassment policies to comply with the requirements of this new law.  Employers with existing anti-harassment policies covering all legally prohibited forms of discrimination and harassment should consider how best to integrate the requirements of New York State’s sexual harassment prevention law into their broader anti-harassment policies.  Multi-state employers should also consider whether to integrate the New York State-specific requirements into anti-harassment policies covering employees in multiple states, or whether to issue a separate policy or addendum for their New York State employees.

New York State employers should also review their anti-harassment training modules and timetables to ensure that they meet the requirements of the New York State law.  New York City employers with 15 or more employees will also want to make sure that their training meets the requirements of the recently enacted New York City training law, as summarized in our Global Workplace Insider article New York City employers take note: New anti-sexual harassment laws enacted. New York City has not yet issued additional guidance under its training law, but we expect that it will do so before the New York City training requirement goes into effect on April 1, 2019.

For more information

Please contact us with any questions. We would be happy to assist your company with compliance with these new requirements.

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