In 2019, the New York state Legislature issued requirements for all employers in the state to have comprehensive sexual harassment prevention policies in place with corresponding, annual training. Specifically, every person who works in the state at any time during the year must receive thorough sexual harassment prevention training to comply with the mandatory policy. This training is due by Friday, Dec. 31, 2021.
Although the requirements are broad, the state has made compliance with the law straightforward by providing model materials for all employers. The model includes a complaint form, a poster to display alongside other labor notices and training materials. These training materials can be customized by each individual business. Additionally, PIA offers sexual harassment prevention training to make compliance even easier. Below is an overview on the requirements in the policy and training.
Mandatory sexual harassment policy
All employers must adopt a sexual harassment policy that meets or exceeds the state requirements. The policy must include:
- a prohibition of sexual harassment that is consistent with the DOL’s guidance;
- examples of unlawful sexual harassment prohibited in the workplace;
- information on relevant federal and state laws regarding workplace harassment, including judicial remedies available to victims of sexual harassment and a statement that there may be applicable local laws, as well (Note: New York City has local laws that may apply);
- a complaint form;
- a procedure for timely and confidential investigations of complaints that guarantees due process for all parties;
- information for employees regarding their rights of redress, and all the available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially;
- a clear statement that sexual harassment is considered a form of employee misconduct and that sanctions will be enforced against individuals engaging in sexual harassment. Sanctions also will be enforced against supervisory and managerial personnel who knowingly allow such behavior to continue; and
- a clear statement that retaliation against individuals who complain of sexual harassment, or who testify or assist with any investigation or proceeding is unlawful.
The easiest way to comply with the law is to adapt the model policy written by the state that includes all these requirements. The spaces employers need to insert specific information have been highlighted. Once completed, the policy must be distributed to all employees. This can be done electronically, as long as the employees have the ability to print it out. Signed acknowledgment is not necessary, but recommended.
After adopting a sexual harassment policy that meets the state’s requirements, every employer will need to conduct annual training on the policies and procedures. New employees will need to be trained within 30 days of hiring. While employees will not be required to sign a form documenting the completion of the training, it is recommended.
The training must include:
- an interaction component;
- an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with the guidance issued by the DOL in consultation with the Division of Human Rights;
- examples of unlawful sexual harassment;
- information on the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment, along with remedies available to victims of sexual harassment;
- information concerning employees’ rights of redress, and all the forums available for adjudicating complaints; and
- an address about conduct by supervisors and the additional responsibilities for such supervisors.
This training needs to be completed every year by Dec. 31.
PIA is here to help
The DOL confirmed that PIANY may provide sexual harassment prevention training that meets the state’s requirements. PIANY offers training on a regular basis. The next available dates for this training are Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021; Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021; and Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021. For more information, access the PIANY education schedule and PIA’s HR Info Central.
Katherine “Kat” Slye-Hernandez, Ph.D.
Katherine “Kat” Slye-Hernandez received her Ph.D. in political science from the State University of Albany, Albany, N.Y., in May 2020. She also has her Master of Arts from SUNY Albany and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History from Elmira College, Elmira, N.Y.