Requirements Effective October 9, 2018

THIS ALERT IS FOR OUR MANY CLIENTS THAT HAVE ADOPTED EMPLOYEE MANUALS WITH OUR ASSISTANCE.

The “me too” movement has spurred the recent passage of sexual harassment prevention laws by both New York State and New York City. The NYS law becomes effective in stages, and the first part of this Alert will focus on the NYS sexual harassment policy requirements that become effective on October 9, 2018.

NYS MODEL POLICY LANGUAGE

The new statute requires New York State employers to adopt and distribute a written sexual harassment prevention policy that satisfies the legal requirements. The statute required the NYS Department of Labor and Division of Human Rights to prepare a model sexual harassment prevention policy which may be adopted by New York employers to satisfy the law. Earlier this month, the state agencies published a DRAFT model sexual harassment prevention policy, which may be found at: https://www.ny.gov/sites/ny.gov/files/atoms/files/StatewideSexualHarassment_PreventionPolicy.pdf

The word “draft” is emphasized because NYS invited comments through September 12, 2018, and to date, it does not appear that the model policy has been finalized yet.

Our law office is monitoring this situation and will be able to help you up-date your Employee Manual sections governing Sexual Harassment and/or to distribute stand-alone compliance materials as soon as the model guidance is finalize…hopefully, before the October 9 deadline.

OTHER NEW NYS LAW REQUIREMENTS

Effective July 1, 2018, the NYS law prohibits employers from (a) including nondisclosure clauses in agreements relating to sexual harassment claims, unless requested by the employee and (b) enforcing mandatory arbitration clauses in connection with sexual harassment claims.
The NYS law also requires NY employers to conduct annual sexual harassment prevention training, which satisfy stated requirements including that it must be “interactive” and should: (i) be web-based,; (ii) accommodate employees’ questions; (iii) include a live trainer to answer questions; and (iv) require employee feedback. Employers must conduct the first training by January 1, 2019. The DRAFT model training requirements may be found at: https://www.ny.gov/sites/ny.gov/files/atoms/files/SexualHarassmentDRAFTModelTraining.pdf

THE NYC LAW

The NYC sexual harassment prevention law also requires annual sexual harassment prevention training, but applies only to employers with 15 or more New York City employees. Typically, there does not seem to have been any meaningful attempt to conform the NYS and NYC requirements. Perhaps this will come about in due time. It should be noted that NYC employers will have a 90-day waiting period to train new hires.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, compliance within the required time frames may be challenging, for both NYS and NYC employers. If you have any questions about the new sexual harassment prevention laws, or about any other facet of employment law, please contact Richard Waxman at: rwaxman@waxmanlaw.com