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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 change was that ALL employers must by October 9, 2018: (1) adopt and distribute to employees a sexual harassment prevention policy; and (2) train all employees by January 1, 2019 (and annually thereafter) about how to prevent sexual harassment.

The New York State Department of Labor, in consultation with the New York State Division of Human Rights, developed and recently released a DRAFT model sexual harassment prevention policy and a model sexual harassment prevention training program. The model policy includes a model employee complaint form.

For those employers who do not adopt the model policy and training program, the State has released “minimum standards” for all mandated policies that prohibit sexual harassment and related training programs.

The DRAFT policy, training program and a helpful FAQ for employers are collected in a website known as Combating Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

The public, employers and employees are encouraged to provide comments on the proposed policies. Comments can be submitted on or before September 12, 2018. All comments will be reviewed and necessary revisions will be considered.

We do not know whether any changes will be made to the model policy and training program. That said, we encourage you to do the following:

  • Read the model policy and consider whether you should adopt the model policy and complaint form or modify your existing policy and complaint form to meet minimum standards. For a variety of reasons, we do NOT recommend that you simply exchange your existing policy for the model policy, particularly without getting advice from legal counsel.
  • Consider when you will provide ALL your employees with the required anti-sexual harassment training on or before January 1, 2019 (and annually thereafter). We expect that there will be a video option available, however, employees must be able to ask questions and interact with someone knowledgeable about the law and the employer’s policies.
We will continue to monitor these developments and keep you informed.