New York State Publishes Draft Guidance on Sexual Harassment Prevention Training and Policies

New York State has published further guidance concerning sexual harassment prevention, as required by the State’s 2019 budget bill. As described in a prior alert, effective October 9, 2018, employers must adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy (which must include, among other things, a complaint form) and conduct annual, interactive sexual harassment prevention training for employees.

The State’s website now includes various documents in draft form, including a model sexual harassment policy; minimum standards for sexual harassment prevention policies to be used by employers that choose not to adopt the model policy; model complaint form for reporting sexual harassment; model sexual harassment prevention training; minimum standards for sexual harassment prevention training to be used by employers that choose not to adopt the model training and Frequently Asked Questions regarding sexual harassment. These documents and information are subject to revision as the State has encouraged employers, employees, and the general public to submit comments on the proposed materials by September 12, 2018.

While the FAQs are in draft format at present, they indicate that an employer’s sexual harassment policy must be provided to employees in writing, although electronic distribution is sufficient if employees can access and print the policy on an employer-provided computer. With regard to sexual harassment prevention training, the FAQs state that all current employees – including part-time and temporary employees – must complete the first instance of training by January 1, 2019. Employees hired after that date must complete the training within 30 calendar days of starting the job. Thereafter, employees must be trained at least once per year, which can be based on the calendar year, anniversary of each employee’s start date, or another date the employer chooses. The FAQs further explain the requirement that the sexual harassment prevention training be “interactive” by stating that the training may “be web-based with questions asked of employees as part of the program; accommodate questions asked by employees; include a live trainer made available during the session to answer questions; and/or require feedback from employees about the training and the materials presented.”

In summary, New York State employers must either adopt the State’s model anti-sexual harassment policy or a compliant, customized version by October 9, 2018, and ensure that current employees and contractors undergo interactive, anti-harassment training by January 1, 2019.

In addition to the requirements imposed by New York State, as a reminder, certain New York City-based employers must also comply with the City’s new requirements to conduct annual anti-sexual harassment interactive training.

New York State and New York City employers must ensure that they are prepared to meet these upcoming deadlines imposed by the new laws.

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