Update on the New York State Anti-Harassment Law—Guidance Issued, but It’s Not Final

Anna Svensson

As discussed in our prior blog post, New York State passed anti-sexual harassment legislation earlier this year, which, in part, requires that New York employers adopt a sexual harassment policy and conduct training. On August 23, 2018, the Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo released the following draft documents relating to these requirements:

Mandatory Sexual Harassment Policy

All policies must be in writing and in the language spoken by the company’s employees. Employers have the option of adopting the Model Sexual Harassment Policy or creating their own policy that meets or exceeds the minimum standards.

Mandatory Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

Employers have the option of following the Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Training or creating their own training that meets or exceeds the minimum standards. All employees must receive training on an annual basis. All current employees, whether full-time, part-time, or transient, including employees that work for just one day for an employer, must complete sexual harassment training that is compliant with the law before January 1, 2019. Thereafter, new hires must receive the training within 30 days of commencing employment. Training should be provided in the language spoken by employees and must be interactive.

Outstanding Issues and Next Steps

Employers must adopt either the state’s Model Sexual Harassment Policy or an adequate customized version incorporating the minimum standards by October 9, 2018.

The draft FAQs do not specify whether employers that have already conducted anti-harassment training this year will need to provide new training before the January 2019 deadline. The draft FAQs also do not specify whether new employees who are hired after October 9, 2018, (the date the new law goes into effect) will need to complete the training within 30 days even if the 30-day window is prior to the January 1, 2019 deadline for existing employees.

Through today, the state is accepting comments from the public on the proposed materials and draft FAQs. Importantly, given the rapidly approaching October 9 deadline for implementing a compliant policy, New York employers may not be able to wait for any updated version or final revisions to the Model Sexual Harassment Policy proposed by the governor’s office—it’s time now to make sure that you either incorporate the Model Sexual Harassment Policy into your handbooks or review and update your existing policy to comply with the detailed requirements in New York.

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