October Update: Are You Ready for New York’s New Anti-Harassment Rules?

Workplace harassment can be a legal nightmare for any business, with an average of 76 harassment charges filed daily with the EEOC. For mid-sized companies, an estimated 19 percent of employment disputes result in defense and settlement costs, averaging $125,000 per claim. In 2017 the #MeToo movement cast a spotlight on sexual harassment in the workplace. In an effort to address the scourge of workplace harassment, both New York State and New York City enacted laws requiring employers to have a comprehensive anti-harassment program which includes both training components and formal complaint processes.

The legislation follows Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s statements earlier this year that he is committed to combatting workplace harassment. “Sexual harassment’s pervasive abuse tears at the fabric of society and violates personal and public trust, and in New York we are taking every step to ensure that this abhorrent practice is stopped once and for all,” he said in a press statement.

Model Sexual Harassment Policy and Training For All Employers

Beginning this month (October 2018) employers must adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy and training or use a similar policy and training that meet or exceeds the law’s minimum standards. Each employee must receive training on an annual basis, starting October 9, 2018, and must complete the model training or comparable training that meets the minimum standards by January 1, 2019. After January 1, 2019, all employees (regardless of how many hours they work) must complete sexual harassment training within 30 calendar days of starting their job. In subsequent years, employees must be trained at least once per year, which may be based on the calendar year, the anniversary of each employee’s start date or any other date the employer chooses.

Training Requirements

Every employer in New York State is required to provide employees with sexual harassment prevention training. The training must:

✓ Be interactive (meaning it should include as many of the following as possible: web-based training with questions asked of employees as part of the program; accommodation of questions asked by employees; availability of a live trainer during the session to answer questions; and required feedback from employees).

✓ Include an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights

✓ Include examples of unlawful sexual harassment

✓ Include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to targets of sexual harassment

✓ Include information concerning employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints

✓ Include information addressing conduct by supervisors and additional responsibilities for supervisors

Note: RedVector courses are now compliant with New York law. Recently, we added a training module, “Additional Protections and Remedies for New York State,” into all anti-harassment training courses to satisfy the latest standards.

To ensure compliance with the latest anti-harassment training laws, get RedVector’s updated Workplace Essentials Library.

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