April 1, 2019
The last two years have seen a rash of politicians, entertainers, and business executives have to resign their position because of allegations of sexual harassment. In response to that, many governments and businesses are reemphasizing sexual harassment policies and passing tough new laws to crack down on the practice. The Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act is one such response; here is what you need to know.
It Works with the NY State Budget Act of 2018
Both bills were passed in conjunction with each other. One change is mandatory sexual harassment training in New York, whether you are a contractor or regular employee. The state passed this in its budget, and it’s aimed at addressing sexual harassment compliance training in the workplace across the board. NYC’s act built upon that and strengthened the laws in some places. Employers and employees have to be aware of the changes at both the state and local level to ensure compliance with the law.
NY State Law Changes
The state law has been changed to:
- Prohibit nondisclosure clauses in settlements or agreements related to a sexual harassment claim unless the complainant wants confidentiality.
- Prohibit mandatory arbitration for harassment claims.
- Require the State Department of Labor and the Division of Human Rights to develop a model policy and sexual harassment prevention training program for addressing sexual harassment claims.
- Mandate the distribution of anti-harassment policies and require annual training sessions for all employees.
The law applies to anyone associated with a contract, contract work, a business, or organization.
City Law Changes: Mandatory Training
The new city law mandates that employers with 15 or more employees, including interns, conduct annual anti-sexual harassment training. All employees, including supervisors and managers must complete the training. The new training curriculum must cover sexual harassment examples; bystander intervention education; and complaint processes internally and at the city, state, and federal level.
Training doesn’t have to be live or conducted by an in-person instructor but must be interactive. This means online harassment training is permissible. It is to occur on an annual basis for all existing employees and any new employees who work more than 80 hours per year on a full- or part-time basis. New employees must be trained within 90 days of the hiring date. Training is transferable from employer to employer within a training cycle. In addition, the City Commission on Human Rights will have to create and make public an online sexual harassment training module for employers to use.
Public Notice of Rights and Responsibilities
The new law requires employers to conspicuously display anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities posters as well as distribute an information sheet to new hires. The law also mandates the commission post information regarding sexual harassment on its website.
Employees can make a gender-based harassment claim regardless of employer size and the statute of limitations for filing a complaint is changed from one to three years after the alleged harassment.
City Contractors Affected
City contractors now fall under anti-sexual harassment laws, including a public statement of their “practices, policies, and procedures relating to preventing and addressing sexual harassment.” Contractors also would have to comply with training requirements for employees, supervisors, and managers.
The new law is designed to mirror and build upon the law the state has passed. The goal of both is to train employees in sexual harassment laws and to make the workplace friendlier to those making allegations while protecting the rights of the accused. For more information on the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act, and for training options, please visit Impact Compliance Training.