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Today, Ginger Schröder of Schröder, Joseph & Associates, LLP published a letter highlighting new requirements regarding sexual harassment in the workplace in New York State. It is critical for every New York employer to review the new rules and ensure they comply. Schröder’s letter is below.

Dear Clients and Friends:

As you undoubtedly know, New York State has passed some fairly significant new requirements with respect to sexual harassment in the workplace.  In short, the following is required:

  1. Promulgate a comprehensive sexual harassment policy that complies with the new requirements and explains the changes to the law which is not more comprehensive. Distribute this policy by TUESDAY 10/9/2018.
  2. Promulgate a complaint form that complies with the new requirements.
  3. Conduct annual training on sexual harassment of all employees to be completed by 10/9/2019.
  4. Conduct sexual harassment training for all new employees within 30 days of their start date.
  5. Comply with new requirements for settling any sexual harassment claims on confidentiality.
  6. Comply with new requirements for mandatory arbitration agreements that cover sexual harassment claims.

Many of you have been in contact with us about these requirements and have obtained our sample policy and complaint form. Others have inquired about training and were particularly worried as the initial deadline to complete all training was 12/31/2018.  However, the date for completion of initial training of all employees has been moved back to 10/9/2019, thankfully.  We will be holding a FREE train the trainer seminar for all of our clients that are interested this month.  This will be about 2 hours in length and will allow employers to send someone to the training to learn how to conduct training internally which should ease some of the expense of these new requirements, especially for smaller employers.  We will distribute materials, cover the new law and provide a compliant PowerPoint for those who are interested.  If you are interested in attending this training, please e-mail gschroder@sjalegal.com and copy mzindle@sjalegal.com. At some point, web based training will be made available from the State, which employers will also be able to use as well.

Also, last week, New York State released the finalized materials and guidance on these new requirements following a public comment period that began in August.  As you can imagine, the State received hundreds of very constructive and substantive comments from a wide range of individuals, advocates, industries, worker groups, businesses and business organizations.  In response, the State’s updated materials, which address numerous items raised in those comments and feedback are now available online.

At that link you will find:

  • Updated website with resources for employers, employees, state contractors and targets of sexual harassment
  • Updated model sexual harassment prevention policy
  • Updated model sexual harassment complaint form
  • Updated model training (script book and PowerPoint presentation)
  • Updated minimum standards for sexual harassment prevention policies and trainings
  • Updated FAQs

So in short here is your “To do list”:

  • Review and revise, as necessary, policies regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, and put in place by Tuesday 10/9/2018
  • Train all employees by 10/9/2019 and prepare to provide sexual harassment training for employees and managers on an annual basis thereafter.
  • Train all new employees within 30 days of hire (Note, the employer is responsible for the training of all new employees even if the employee works only one day and resigns, so it is our advice to train as a part of onboarding the first or second day of work)
  • Review any arbitration documents or programs requiring the arbitration of sexual harassment claims to determine if any revisions are required on a going-forward basis.
  • Revise separation and settlement agreements, including nondisclosure provisions pertaining to sexual harassment claims, and seek advice from counsel on compliance with the new requirements for settlement of sexual harassment claims where confidentiality is desired.
  • If you are based in New York City and the proposed annual sexual harassment training requirements are signed into law by Mayor de Blasio, then reconcile the differences in the requirements under the state and city laws so that your training program incorporates all of the rules and parameters set forth under both state and city laws.

Please feel free to contact any of our attorneys with any questions:

Linda Joseph:
716-861-1398 (cell)
716-881-4902 (direct)
ljoseph@sjalegal.com

Heather Giambra:
716-881-4905 (direct)
716-572-9307 (cell)
hgiambra@sjalegal.com

Jennifer Friedman:
716-601-9045 (cell)
jfriedman@sjalegal.com

Ginger Schroder:
716-863-4000 (cell)
716-881-4901 (direct)
gschroder@sjalegal.com

Alicia Rood:
716-912-3813 (cell)
716-881-4928 (direct)
arood@sjalegal.com

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