This is important and time sensitive information for all NYS Employers:
On October 1st, the NYS Department of Labor and Division of Human Rights released the long awaited final guidance regarding a model sexual harassment policy, complaint form, and model sexual harassment training program, which were mandated by statutory changes included in the state budget adopted in March 2018. These documents are available on the Combating Sexual Harassment in the Workplace website and can be found here.
Model Sexual Harassment Policy
Amendments to the state’s labor law provides that every employer in the State of New York is required to adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy pursuant to new Section 201-g of the Labor Law. An employer that does not adopt the state’s model policy must ensure that the policy that they adopt meets or exceeds the minimum standards in the model policy.
All New York employers, including those in New York City, and regardless of how many employees they have, must have in place a policy that meets the minimum standards defined in these final guidance documents.
We appreciate that the Department of Labor made substantive changes to the model documents based on comments submitted.
Employers are encouraged to adopt the model policy provided on the website or a similar policy that meet the minimum standards of the guidance as soon as possible. The law requires that employers have a policy in place by October 9, 2018, that meets or exceeds the minimum standards outlined in the final guidance.
The State has also provided a poster notifying employees of the existence of their employer’s policy. While not mandated by statute, displaying this poster will show your commitment to eliminating unlawful workplace harassment and contribute to your affirmative defense.
Additionally, the website provides a model Complaint Form and strongly encourages employees to use the form when making harassment complaints. Another significant change is the removal of the “30-day” period in which employers were tasked with completing investigations of harassment. The final guidance provides that investigations be completed “in a timely manner.”
Model Sexual Harrasment Training
Every employer in the State of New York is required to provide employees with sexual harassment prevention training pursuant to recently adopted Section 201-g of the state Labor Law. An employer that does not use the model training developed by the State Department of Labor and Division of Human Rights must ensure that the training that they use meets or exceeds the minimum standards in the model training program.
The Business Council of New York State (the Webster Chamber is a member) argued for several changes in the final guidance provided by the Department. Most notably, they argued for a change in the training deadline date from 1/1/2019 to a more manageable and realistic date. In response, the final guidance requires that all employees be trained on an annual basis and that the first round of training be completed prior to October 9, 2019. This will provide employers with the opportunity to develop and deliver effective and worthwhile training for its employees.