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New York State and City Legislative Responses to #MeToo & #TimesUp Movements

New York State and City Legislative Responses to #MeToo & #TimesUp Movements

On the heels of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, both New York State and New York City have recently passed laws aimed at combating and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. Both laws not only expand the scope of the existing human rights laws, but also introduce new mandates for New York City employers, requiring updated employee notice and workplace posting requirements, updates to anti-harassment policies, and the introduction of interactive anti-harassment training (in addition to New York State’s prohibitions against the use of certain confidentiality provisions and mandatory arbitration clauses in sexual harassment-based disputes). 

Requirements under each law roll out with several deadlines for New York City employers to track.  Below is a timeline designed to help ensure your full and timely compliance with both laws.   

Effective Now: Human Rights Law Expansion 

  • Protection of Non-Employees - The New York State Human Rights Law is expanded to protect non-employees from sexual harassment, including contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants, or any other person providing services in the workplace. 
  • Gender-Based Harassment - The scope of the New York City Human Rights Law regarding claims of gender-based harassment is expanded to cover all employers, regardless of the size of the employer. Additionally, the policy statement of the New York City Human Rights Law will be amended to include a statement declaring that “gender-based harassment threatens the terms, conditions and privileges of employment.” 
  • Longer Statute of Limitations - The statute of limitations for filing complaints with the New York City Commission on Human Rights for “claim[s] of gender-based harassment” under the New York City Human Rights Law is extended from one year to three years. 

Effective September 6, 2018: Anti-Sexual Harassment Rights & Responsibilities Poster/Information Sheet  

  • All New York City employers must display an anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities poster and distribute an information sheet on sexual harassment at the time of hire. Both the poster and information sheet will be made available on the New York City Commission’s website. 

Effective October 9, 2018: New York State Mandated Anti-Sexual Harassment Training 

  • Under New York State law, all New York employers (including businesses in New York City) must adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy to be distributed in writing to employees.  The policy must include a standard complaint form, examples of prohibited conduct, and the procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints.
  • All New York employers, regardless of size, must institute an interactive, annual sexual harassment training that includes the following:
    • An explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the department in consultation with the New York State Division of Human Rights;
    • Information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment;
    • Examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment;
    • Information concerning employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints; and
    • Information addressing conduct by supervisors and any additional responsibilities of such supervisors.

 

Effective April 1, 2019: New York City Law Mandated Anti-Sexual Harassment Training 

  • Under the City law, employers with 15 or more employees, including interns, must provide mandatory, interactive, annual anti-sexual harassment training for all employees, including supervisory and managerial employees. Such training shall be required after 90 days of initial hire for employees who work more than 80 hours in a calendar year who perform work on a full-time or part-time basis.
  • The training must include:
    • an explanation of sexual harassment as a form of unlawful discrimination under City law;
    • a statement that sexual harassment is also a form of unlawful discrimination under state and federal law;
    • a description of sexual harassment and use of examples;
    • any internal complaint process available to employees to address sexual harassment claims;
    • the complaint process available through the City Commission, the New York State Division of Human Rights and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, including contact information;
    • a prohibition on retaliation and examples;
    • information concerning bystander intervention, including but not limited to any resources that explain how to engage in bystander intervention; and
    • the specific responsibilities of supervisory and managerial employees in the prevention of sexual harassment and retaliation, and measures that such employees may take to appropriately address sexual harassment complaints.
  • Under the City law, “interactive training” is defined as, “participatory teaching whereby the trainee is engaged in a trainer-trainee interaction, use of audio-visuals, computer or online training program or other participatory forms of training as determined by the commission.” However, live training or training facilitated by an in-person instructor is not required.
  • Employers must also maintain records of the trainings, as well as signed employee acknowledgments, for at least three years.
  • Note that although the City training requirement applies to employers with 15 or more employees, employers of any size must still comply with the state training requirements

Updates, interpretations, and resources are likely to be rolled out in the coming months on both the New York State and New York City level.  In preparation for the above mentioned effective dates, employers should begin to review and revise their employment policies, practices, and trainings, as necessary, to comply with changes to the law.  Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions regarding your obligations under these State and City Anti-Sexual Harassment laws. 
 

New York State Legislative Responses to #MeToo & #TimesUp Movements 

On the heels of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, Governor Cuomo recently signed into law significant legislation aimed at combating and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.  The legislation not only expands the scope of the New York State Human Rights Law, but also introduces new mandates for all New York State employers, requiring updates to anti-harassment policies and the introduction of interactive anti-harassment training (in addition to prohibitions against the use of certain confidentiality provisions and mandatory arbitration clauses in sexual harassment-based disputes).

Below is an outline of these new requirements.  

Effective Now: Human Rights Law Expansion

  • The New York State Human Rights Law is expanded to protect non-employees from sexual harassment, including contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants, or any other person providing services in the workplace.
  • Employers will now be liable for sexual harassment involving these types of non-employees if the employer knew or should have known about the harassment and failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.

 

Effective October 9, 2018: New York State Mandated Anti-Sexual Harassment Training 

  • All New York employers must adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy to be distributed in writing to employees.  The policy must include a standard complaint form, examples of prohibited conduct, and the procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints.
  • All New York employers must also institute an interactive, annual sexual harassment training that includes the following:
    • An explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the department in consultation with the New York State Division of Human Rights;
    • Information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment;
    • Examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment;
    • Information concerning employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints; and
    • Information addressing conduct by supervisors and any additional responsibilities of such supervisors.
  • Employers may utilize the model sexual harassment prevention policy and training program produced by the New York State Department of Labor or may implement their own policy and training that otherwise equals or exceeds the minimum standards provided by such model policy and model training.

 

Updates, interpretations, and resources are likely to be rolled out in the coming months.  In preparation for these changes, employers should begin to review and revise their employment policies, practices, and trainings, as necessary, to comply with changes to the law.  Please feel free to reach out to Evan White from White Harris Law Firm with any questions regarding your obligations under this new Anti-Sexual Harassment legislation.



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Evan J. White | Partner 
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