Sexual Harassment Prevention Training | Comply with NYS Laws

In accordance with provisions enacted in the 2018-2019 New York State budget, as of October 9, 2018, all New York State employers must adopt a sexual harassment prevention training policy that meets or exceeds the minimum standards required by New York’s new model draft guidance. Employers who already maintain their own policy must modify their existing model to meet the “minimum standards” of said draft guidance as well. Effective October 9, 2019, all employers must provide all employees with annual sexual harassment prevention training modeled after these standards.

Many employers may find it difficult to implement a strictly modeled and mandated anti-sexual training policy in just 3 months, from October to the end of December of 2018. Employers might also find it difficult to interpret these new laws and integrate them into their workplace, especially if these laws are amended over time. Employers in New York may require the help of a law firm that has extensive experience handling cases of sexual harassment and maintains comprehensive knowledge on this anti-sexual harassment legislation. Leeds Brown Law can assist. We offer full service compliance training and can help you, as an employer, understand these new, complex laws, and confirm that your sexual harassment prevention training policy meets or exceeds the New York State guidelines.

Minimum Standards of Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Must:

1) Be interactive
2) Prohibit sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights
3) Provide examples of prohibited conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment
4) 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
5) Include a complaint form
6) Include a procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints that ensures due process for all parties
7) Inform employees of their rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially
8) 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
9) Clearly state that retaliation against individuals who complain of sexual harassment or who testify or assist in any investigation or proceeding involving harassment is unlawful

What Else Should Employers Know?

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training isn’t the only provision of the New York State’s 2018-2019 budget that employers should know about. Here’s a list of other provisions, some already in effect, applicable to New York State employers:

“Non-Employees” Are Now Protected

“Non-employees,” such as contractors, subcontractors, vendors, and consultants can now bring a sexual harassment claim pursuant to the New York State Human Rights Law.

Prohibition of Nondisclosure Agreements, Confidentiality Clauses and Mandatory Arbitration Provisions

As of July 11, 2018, “nondisclosure agreements” or “confidentiality clauses” used in connection with the settlements of sexual harassment claims are no longer permitted, unless confidentiality is the explicit preference of the victim. Mandatory arbitration agreements for claims of sexual harassment will also become unenforceable. Note that these provisions are not retroactive – confidentiality clauses and arbitration agreements entered into prior to July 11, 2018, may remain enforceable.

Reimbursement of Public Funds

Any officer or employee of the state who is the subject of a final judgment of personal liability in connection with intentional wrongdoing relating to a claim of sexual harassment will be required to reimburse the state for any state or public payment made on that judgment. If the officer or employee fails to reimburse the state, the money will be deducted from his or her paycheck. Even if he or she is no longer receiving a paycheck from the state, other measures will be taken to enforce this responsibility.