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Earlier this year, we notified you about changes made to New York laws that prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace. The most significant changes were that ALL employers must (1) adopt and distribute to employees a sexual harassment prevention policy; and (2) train all employees about how to prevent sexual harassment.

In early September of 2018, we notified you that the New York State Department of Labor, in consultation with the New York State Division of Human Rights, developed and released a DRAFT model sexual harassment prevention policy (which included a model employee complaint form) and a model sexual harassment prevention training program. The State asked employers and other interested parties for comment.

After considering these comments, the State issued its final guidance on October 1, 2018. The updated final guidance and other resources–including a model policy, model training materials, and a Toolkit For Employers–are available on a website known as Combating Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.

Here’s what you need to know right now:

  1. Employers must issue to employees, by the close of business on October 9, 2018, a compliant sexual harassment prevention policy.
  2. Employers can adopt the model policy drafted by the State. If they do not, the policy they draft must meet or exceed “minimum standards” mandated by the State
  3. The deadline to provide the mandated training for existing employees has been extended to October 9, 2019 (the original deadline was January 1, 2019).
  4. The final guidance eliminated the requirement that all newly hired employees receive sexual harassment prevention training within thirty days of hire, however, it recommends that new hires be trained “as quickly as possible.”
  5. A complaint form need not be included within the sexual harassment prevention policy itself, however, employers should be clear about where an employee may secure such a form. Employers can adopt the model employee complaint form.
  6. The final guidance also includes FAQs addressing the policy and training requirements, as well as on nondisclosure agreements and mandatory arbitration provisions.

Please contact us if we can help with these issues.