New York State Enacts Anti-Sexual Harassment Laws

New York State has enacted new legislation to combat sexual harassment in the workplace.  Effective October 9, 2018, the State will require all employers to enact and distribute a written policy prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace.  Among other things, the written policy must:

  • State that sexual harassment is prohibited and provide examples of prohibited conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment.
  • Include information concerning the statutory provisions governing sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment, as well as a standard complaint form and complaint procedure.
  • Inform employees of their rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially.
  • 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.
  • State that retaliation against individuals who complain of sexual harassment is unlawful.

Employers will also be required to provide sexual harassment prevention training on an annual basis to their employees.  The training must be interactive and include:

  • An explanation of sexual harassment.
  • Examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment.
  • Information about the statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment.
  • Information concerning employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints.

In addition, the protections against sexual harassment in the workplace have been expanded to cover “non-employees.”  Employers can now be held liable for sexual harassment of contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants, and others that occurs at the workplace.

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