On April 12, 2018, New York’s Governor Cuomo signed the state budget, which includes a mandate that employers provide employees with annual sexual harassment training. In addition, the New York State Human Rights Law has been amended to now protect contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants and others providing services in the workplace from sexual harassment as well. New York State law now prohibits nondisclosure clauses in any settlement or other agreement regarding sexual harassment unless the condition of confidentiality is the complainant’s preference. Effective dates are as follows:
- Sept. 6, 2018 – Every employer in New York State is required to provide written notice of employees’ anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities under the Human Rights Law and display a sexual harassment poster designed by the NYC Commission on Human Rights.
- Oct. 9, 2018 – New York State employers must adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy, complaint form and training, or use a similar policy and training that meet or exceed the law’s minimum standards.
- Jan. 1, 2019 – All New York State contractors must submit an affirmation that they have a sexual harassment policy and that they provide annual training to all of their employees.
- Oct. 9, 2019 – All New York State employees must complete the model training or a comparable training program that meets the minimum standards. To assist employers with compliance, online training will be available from New York State on or before April 1, 2019.
All employees who work or will work in New York State need to be trained, regardless of the employers’ base location. If an individual works a portion of their time in New York State, they must be trained. These changes apply to all New York State employers, even those not located in the state but that have employees located there.
Advice to Employers: What You Need to Do to Comply
- Be prepared to address questions raised by employees, including those specific to their industry, as well as questions about the organization’s reporting process and about how hypothetical cases would be handled.
- Obtain the required poster and post it immediately so it is visible to all employees.
- Obtain the required information sheet and provide a copy to newly hired employees.
- Review the organization’s existing handbook and update it as necessary to ensure it complies with these new requirements as well as any other laws that have gone into effect since the handbook was last revised.
- Decide how to implement the new annual training requirements. There are options, including in-person and online trainings.
- Address any employee communication, language and disability barriers to training.
- Assign recordkeeping responsibility within the organization to demonstrate compliance, if and when called upon to do so.
How Baker Tilly Vantagen Can Help Navigate Sexual Harassment Laws
Baker Tilly Vantagen is a full-service business consulting organization that has been providing HR, compliance and benefits administration services to clients for more than 20 years. Baker Tilly Vantagen professionals specialize in HR policy and procedure review and development, HR compliance audits and HR operational assessments, as well as training and compliance education. Our team offers a comprehensive approach to help your organization address current and future changes related to this law by:
- Proactively reviewing and assessing your organization’s current anti-harassment policies to ensure compliance with all provisions of these new laws and offer recommendations to amend pre-existing policies
- Working with you to develop and/or deliver a training plan for your employees, which complies with standards of these new laws and effectively and efficiently communicates your policies
To find out more about how our Baker Tilly Vantagen team can assist your organization, contact Kim Wylam, President and Managing Partner.