On October 1, 2018, the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) and the New York State Division of Human Rights (NYSDHR) released finalized guidance documents regarding the workplace sexual harassment protections enacted as part of the New York state budget bill on April 12, 2018. The new sexual harassment protections require, among other things, all New York state employers to adopt written sexual harassment policies containing specific information and mandates annual sexual harassment training programs meeting certain standards. For more detailed information on the New York state and New York City changes to workplace sexual harassment legislation, see our previous Alert.

These finalized documents come eight days before the sexual harassment policy requirement goes into effect on October 9, 2018. The documents include: (1) the minimum standards for sexual harassment prevention policies; (2) a model sexual harassment prevention policy; (3) a model sexual harassment complaint form; and (4) a model sexual harassment prevention training program.

As these workplace sexual harassment guidance documents are now finalized, employers should pay close attention to the following deadlines for compliance:

New York State Sexual Harassment Policy

By October 9, 2018, all New York employers must adopt the model sexual harassment prevention policy or develop a policy meeting or exceeding the minimum standards set by the model.

The NYSDOL and NYSDHR published draft versions of guidance documents in August. After a period of public comment, the draft model policy was revised to remove particularly troublesome provisions for employers, such as confidentiality in investigations (revised to require confidential investigations to the extent possible), a 30-day period to complete an investigation (revised to as soon as possible) and no provision regarding false charges in the retaliation section (revised to state that false charges are not protected from retaliation).

Employers should note that while the model policy is helpful guidance for what New York state considers an acceptable sexual harassment policy, the law only requires employers to have a policy that meets the minimum standards, which the NYSDOL and NYSDHR have listed separately, both in checklist format and in a policy statement.

New York State Sexual Harassment Training Requirements

By October 9, 2019, all New York employers must present to all current employees an annual sexual harassment prevention training using the model training program or a training program meeting or exceeding the minimum standards set by the NYSDOL and NYSDHR, which they have also listed in both a checklist format and in a policy statement. Thereafter, new employees should be trained as soon as possible.

In addition to deadlines for compliance with state law, all New York City employers should be mindful of the following deadlines for compliance with the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act:

New York City Sexual Harassment Posting and Distribution Requirements

By September 6, 2018, all New York City employers were required to post "Stop Sexual Harassment Act" notices in English and Spanish and distribute "Stop Sexual Harassment Act" factsheets to new employees, either as part of an employee's onboarding materials or in an employee handbook. 

New York City Sexual Harassment Training Requirements

Effective April 1, 2019, all New York City employers with 15 or more employees have one year to implement and conduct an annual anti-sexual harassment interactive training for all employees who work more than 80 hours in a calendar year. The training must be provided after 90 days of initial hire.

For More Information

If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact Eve I. Klein, Eric W. Ruden, any of the  attorneys in our Employment, Labor, Benefits and Immigration Practice Group or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.