NYS Releases Final Guidance for Model Sexual Harassment Policies and Training
On October 1, 2018, the NYS DOL and NYS Division of Human Rights released final guidelines for employers to build compliant sexual harassment policies and training. While little has changed from draft regulations, there were two significant changes impacting employers.
- The final guidelines has extended the deadline to have all employees initially trained from January 1, 2018 to October 9, 2019, giving employers a full year to select their training program and get all employees trained.
- The final guidelines now state that all new hires must complete sexual harassment training “as quickly as possible.” Previous draft guidelines had given employers only 30 days to complete initial training of new hires.
Of note, the NYS Combating Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Website still states that all state contractors, under penalty of perjury, must submit an affirmation that they have a sexual harassment policy and that they have trained all of their employees by January 2019.
Model Guidance on NYS Sexual Harassment Policies
With regards to finalizing and distributing updated sexual harassment policies to employees that are compliant with the new regulation, employers must still distribute policies by October 9, 2018. Employers can furnish policies on paper or electronically, but if doing so electronically, employees must have the ability to print the policy and retain it for their records. Policies should also be posted on company read boards with other required DOL posters.
While the new law does not require employers to collect employee signatures to verify distribution of their policies, there are a number of legal opinions recommending that employers do just that. John Bagyi of Bond Schoeneck & King attorneys advised the NY State SHRM Conference attendees in September of 2018 to have employees review and sign-off on their employer’s sexual harassment policy every year.
Model Guidance on NYS Sexual Harassment Training
While the final minimum training standards did not change from those in the draft regulations, there were some additional and expanded instructions to employers, including:
- Training may include additional interactive activities, including an opening activity, role playing or group discussion.
- If specific employer policies or practices differ from the content in this (the model) training, the training should be modified to reflect those nuances, while still including all of the minimum elements required by New York State law.
Employers are also highly encouraged to present training to employees in their native language. While the law does not mandate that employers do this, it does convey that should a sexual harassment violation take place, and the alleged harasser has not been trained in his or her primary language, employers could be liable for improperly training the employee.
Finally, training guidelines also state that should a participant start to share a testimony of alleged harassment during the training, that facilitators should interrupt the individual, recommend discussing in private, and then direct the individual to the appropriate office contact for reporting a violation.
Download Benetech’s NYS Sexual Harassment Compliance Checklist
To help NYS and NYC employers comply with the new NYS Sexual Harassment law, Benetech has developed a simple overview checklist to guide employers in fulfilling their compliance steps. Use this free guide as a resource for getting your organization compliant with the law’s requirements.