New York’s New Sexual Harassment Law Takes Effect in October

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Written by Todd J. Tranum
President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce
& Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier

New York State’s new anti-sexual harassment law is about to take effect. The measure includes language that requires employers to adopt a prevention policy and training plan, and protects employees as well as contractors, vendors, and consultants from sexual harassment in the workplace.

For employers, the measure includes a model policy. An employer can adopt the model policy outlined by the state or must ensure that their own policy meets or exceeds the minimum standards. Those standards include: prohibiting sexual harassment under the Department of Labor and Division of Human Rights guidelines; provide examples of prohibited conduct; include a complaint form; inform employees of their rights, and more. It must also include training that addresses conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment.

For workers, the state has put together a guide to reporting sexual harassment complaints and spells out behavior that may be included such as physical assaults, unwanted sexual advances, sexually oriented remarks, or hostile discrimination. The measure includes a mandatory arbitration clause.

Employers must adopt a prevention policy beginning October 9th of this year, including a training plan. All employees must receive training by January 1, 2019. New employees must receive training within 30 days of their start date. All employees must complete additional training at least one time per year.

The Chamber encourages employers to visit the state’s comprehensive web pages on this legislation and implementation at www.ny.gov/programs/combating-sexual-harassment-workplace or contact the New York State Division of Human Rights at dhr.ny.gov or the New York State Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service at (800) 342-3661.