New York Employers Now Subject to
New Sexual Harassment Prevention Requirements

Earlier this year, both New York State and New York City enacted legislation intended to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.  The laws impose heightened requirements on employers, including new administrative and training requirements and apply to all employers, regardless of size - even those employers who employ only one employee.  On Monday, October, 1, 2018, the New York State Department of Labor issued updated FAQs, guidance and model documents to assist employers in complying with the new standards. 

There are three tiers for compliance with the new requirements:

Tier 1:  All employers in New York State, regardless of size
Tier 2:  All employers in New York City, regardless of size
Tier 3:  All employers in New York City with 15 or more employees

TIER 1:   ALL EMPLOYERS IN NEW YORK STATE, REGARDLESS OF SIZE, MUST TAKE THE FOLLOWING ACTIONS:

  • Adopt a Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy and distribute a copy to all employees by October 9, 2018   (NYS MODEL POLICY IS AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD - IMPLEMENT IMMEDIATELY)
  • Provide Sexual Harassment Prevention Training to all employees by October 9, 2019 and annually thereafter   (NYS MODEL TRAINING VIDEO IS EXPECTED TO BE RELEASED IN THE NEAR FUTURE)

TIER 2:   IF YOUR PRACTICE IS IN NEW YORK CITY, YOU MUST:

  • Comply with all Tier 1 requirements, plus the following
  • Post an anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities poster in your workplace   (NYC POSTER IS AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD - IMPLEMENT IMMEDIATELY)
  • Distribute a fact sheet on sexual harassment to all employees or include the fact sheet in an employee handbook (NYC FACT SHEET IS AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD - IMPLEMENT IMMEDIATELY)

TIER 3:   IF YOUR PRACTICE IS IN NEW YORK CITY AND YOU HAVE 15 OR MORE EMPLOYEES, YOU MUST:

  • Comply with all Tier 1 and Tier 2 requirements, plus the following  
  • Provide training consistent with NYC requirements

SUMMARY OF NEW YORK STATE REQUIREMENTS

1. Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy - ACTION REQUIRED BY OCTOBER 9, 2018

Under state law, all employers must adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy, including a complaint form, no later than October 9, 2018. In addition, a written copy of the policy must be distributed to all employees no later than October 9, 2018. The complaint form need not be distributed along with a copy of the policy, but must be readily available to employees.

The policy may be distributed in writing or electronically. If provided electronically, the employee must be able to print a copy of the policy from their work computer. Employers are not required, but are encouraged, to obtain a signed acknowledgement of receipt from each employee.

In general, the requirement to distribute the policy does not apply to third-party vendors, independent contractors or other non-employees who provide services to your practice (e.g., billers, accountants or attorneys). HOWEVER, if there is an individual who performs duties and services in your workplace on a regular basis (e.g., clerical, administrative or reception services), regardless of whether that individual receives a W-2 or a 1099 from your practice, that individual would be considered an employee for these purposes and must receive a copy of your sexual harassment prevention policy.

The Department of Labor has developed a model policy, which may be downloaded in Word format by clicking here. The Department of Labor model complaint form may be downloaded in Word format by clicking here. The model documents may be customized for your practice by filling in the employer name and other relevant contact information. A copy of the customized policy should be printed and distributed to all employees. A master copy should be maintained in your permanent office files. A copy of the customized complaint form should be printed and made available as needed.

2. Training – REQUIRED BY OCTOBER 9, 2019

All employees must receive sexual harassment prevention training no later than October 9, 2019 and annually thereafter. We anticipate that the State will be developing a web-based video training program that will be made available to the public. We will update members as soon as more information and materials are released.

In general, this training requirement does not apply to third-party vendors, independent contractors or other non-employees who provide services to your practice (e.g., billers, accountants or attorneys). HOWEVER, if there is an individual who performs duties and services in your workplace on a regular basis (e.g., clerical, administrative or reception services), regardless of whether that individual receives a W-2 or a 1099 from your practice, that individual would be considered an employee for these purposes and must receive the mandatory training.

At this time, the state has released initial model training documents, including a model training script and a model PowerPoint presentation, which can be accessed by clicking here.

SUMMARY OF NEW YORK CITY REQUIREMENTS

1. Sexual Harassment Prevention Poster

As of September 6, 2018, all New York City employers must conspicuously display an anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities poster in the employee area of their workplace. The poster must be displayed in both English and Spanish. The NYC Human Rights Commission has developed a model poster for use by employers.

Click here to download the poster in English

Click here to download the poster in Spanish

2. Sexual Harassment Prevention Fact Sheet

As of September 6, 2018, all New York City employers must provide all new hires with a Stop Sexual Harassment Act Fact Sheet. All existing employees should be provided with a Fact Sheet as well. The NYC Human Rights Commission has developed a model fact sheet for use by employers.

Click here to download the fact sheet in English

Click here to download the fact sheet in Spanish

3. Training

Effective April 1, 2019, New York City employers with 15 or more employees must also provide training that is consistent with both State and City requirements. All new hires must be trained within 90 days of hire.

For more information about the NYS requirements, Click here.

For more information about the NYC requirements, Click here.

This document is intended to provide a general overview of new legal requirements but should not be relied upon as individualized legal advice or as providing a legal opinion.