United States: NYC Council To Consider Series Of Bills Aimed At Addressing Workplace Sexual Harassment

The New York City Council will consider a series of bills aimed at preventing and addressing workplace sexual harassment, both in the private sector and in city agencies. The eleven bills, collectively titled the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act, were jointly introduced by the Council Committee on Women and the Committee on Civil and Human Rights on February 28, 2018.

Among the eleven bills, several apply to private employers in the City and would amend the New York City Human Rights Law ("NYCHRL") and the New York City Charter in the following ways:

  • T2018-1463 would require private employers with 15 or more employees to conduct annual anti-sexual harassment training for all employees working 80 or more hours per year in New York City. The training would involve "participatory teaching whereby the trainee is engaged in a trainer-trainee interaction, use of audio-visuals, or other participatory forms of training," and would be required to include, among other points, an explanation of sexual harassment as a form of unlawful discrimination under city, state and federal law, practical examples of what constitutes sexual harassment, education on bystander intervention, and an explanation of both the employer's internal complaint procedure and the administrative complaint procedures available through the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), the New York State Division on Human Rights (the "State Division"), and the NYC Commission on Human Rights (the "City Commission"). Supervisors and managers also would be required to attend additional annual training addressing, among other things, the specific responsibilities of supervisory and managerial employees in the prevention of sexual harassment and retaliation. Employers would be required to maintain a record of all such trainings, including signed employee acknowledgment forms. The bill also would require the City Commission to develop publicly available online sexual harassment training modules for employers' use.
  • T2018-1462 would require employers to conspicuously display an anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities poster in the workplace, as well as distribute an information sheet on sexual harassment to employees upon hire. The poster and information sheet would be designed by the City Commission and would include descriptions and examples of sexual harassment and information on reporting harassment to the EEOC, the State Division, and the City Commission.
  • T2018-1466 would amend the NYCHRL to allow claims of sexual and gender-based harassment by all New York City employees, regardless of the size of the employer. Currently, employers with fewer than four employees are not covered by the anti-discrimination provisions of the NYCHRL.
  • T2018-1474 would extend the statute of limitations for filing complaints with the City Commission under the NYCHRL for filing claims of "harassment based on unwelcome conduct that intimidates, interferes with, oppresses, threatens, humiliates or degrades a person based in whole or in part on such person's gender" from the current one year to three years after the alleged harassing conduct occurred.
  • T2018-1465 would amend the policy statement of the NYCHRL to specifically affirm that sexual and gender-based harassment is a form of discrimination that the Commission has the power to eliminate and prevent. Currently, the policy statement references discrimination and harassment more generally; the amendment would add language to the statement specifically stating that "sexual or gender-based harassment, which can include unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, threatens the terms, conditions and privileges of employment."
  • T2018-1468 would amend the New York City Charter to require city contractors to specifically report their practices, policies, and procedures "relating to preventing and addressing sexual harassment" as part of an existing report required for certain contracts pursuant to the City Charter and corresponding rules. The report currently requires information on employment practices, policies, and procedures more generally, as well as statistics and collective bargaining agreements.
  • T2018-1461 would require the City Commission to post resources about sexual harassment on its website, including practical examples of discrimination, harassment and retaliation, information on bystander intervention, and information about filing a complaint through the Commission, the State Division, and the EEOC.

Other bills in the package are aimed at addressing and encouraging the reporting of sexual harassment in within City agencies:

  • T2018-1459 would require all City agencies to conduct anti-sexual harassment training twice per year, with supervisors and managers being required to attend additional training twice per year focusing on preventing sexual harassment and retaliation, and appropriately addressing employees' complaints.
  • T2018-1464, would require all city agencies to submit annual reports to the Mayor, the Council, and the City Commission detailing all complaints of workplace sexual harassment within the agency. Each agency would also be required to post the report on its website.
  • T2018-1460 would require the City Commission, in conjunction with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, to prepare reports assessing the risk factors associated with sexual harassment within city agencies. The reports would be published and submitted to the Mayor and NYC Council Speaker. Similarly, T2018-1467 would require the City Commission to develop a climate survey to assess City employees' awareness and knowledge of sexual harassment policies and prevention.

We will be sure to track these bills and report on further developments.

NYC Council To Consider Series Of Bills Aimed At Addressing Workplace Sexual Harassment

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