September 14, 2018

Complying with New York State mandatory sexual harassment training requirements


Complying with New York State mandatory sexual harassment training requirements*

By October 2018 employers in New York State either must have adopted the State's "Model Sexual Harassment Policy" or a similar policy and training procedure that meet or exceeds the State’s minimum standards.

In the event an employer does not adopt the State's model Sexual Harassment Policy, the policy adopted by the employer must: 
  • prohibit sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights
  • provide examples of prohibited conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment
  • include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment, remedies available to victims of sexual harassment, and a statement that there may be applicable local laws
  • include a complaint form
  • include a procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints that ensures due process for all parties
  • inform employees of their rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially
  • clearly state that sexual harassment is considered a form of employee misconduct and that sanctions will be enforced against individuals engaging in sexual harassment and against supervisory and managerial personnel who knowingly allow such behavior to continue
  • clearly state that retaliation against individuals who complain of sexual harassment or who testify or assist in any investigation or proceeding involving sexual harassment is unlawful
In addition, every employer in New York State is required to provide employees with sexual harassment prevention training. An employer that does not use the model training developed by the Department of Labor and Division of Human Rights must ensure that the training that they use meets or exceeds the following minimum standards.

The training must:
  • be interactive
  • 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 conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment 
  • include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment
  • include information concerning employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints
  • include information addressing conduct by supervisors and any additional responsibilities for such supervisors

Each employee must receive training on an annual basis, starting October 9, 2018. A number of organizations such as Paragon Compliance, LLC at https://www.paragoncompliancellc.com/, offer online interactive anti-sexual harassment training. 

* See §201-g of the New York State Labor Law.

Also note the following: 

1. New York City has adopted a Local Law, Local Law 96 of 2018, amending the administrative code of the City of New York in relation to anti-sexual harassment training mandating that all private employers with 15 or more employees conduct annual anti-sexual harassment training for all its employees, including supervisors and managerial employees of such employer. See New York City Administrative Code § 8-107 and New York City Charter § 815.1. ;

2. §5-336 of the General Obligations Law provides as follows: 

"Nondisclosure agreements. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no employer, its officers or employees shall have the authority to include or agree to include in any settlement, agreement or other resolution of any claim, the factual foundation for which involves sexual harassment, any term or condition that would prevent the disclosure of the underlying facts and circumstances to the claim or action unless the condition of confidentiality is the complainant's preference. Any such term or condition must be provided to all parties, and the complainant shall have twenty-one days to consider such term or condition. If after twenty-one days such term or condition is the complainant's preference, such preference shall be memorialized in an agreement signed by all parties. For a period of at least seven days following the execution of such agreement, the complainant may revoke the agreement, and the agreement shall not become effective or be enforceable until such revocation period has expired."; and

3. §139-l of the State Finance Law provides, in pertinent part, for the inclusion of a statement on sexual harassment in bids pursuant to which:

"Every bid hereafter made to the state or any public department or agency thereof, where competitive bidding is required by statute, rule or regulation, for work or services performed or to be performed or goods sold or to be sold, shall contain the following statement subscribed by the bidder and affirmed by such bidder as true under the penalty of perjury: 'By submission of this bid, each bidder and each person signing on behalf of any bidder certifies, and in the case of a joint bid each party thereto certifies as to its own organization, under penalty of perjury, that the bidder has and has implemented a written policy addressing sexual harassment prevention in the workplace and provides annual sexual harassment prevention training to all of its employees. Such policy shall, at a minimum, meet the requirements of section two hundred one-g of the labor law.'"


 

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