While many employers have realized the importance of adopting a preventative anti-harassment policy as well as providing anti-harassment training, this was an option but not requirement that employers had to meet. Effective October 9, 2018, the State of New York will require employers with 15 or more employees to implement annual sexual harassment training to its employees, as well as adopt a comprehensive policy to prevent harassment in the workplace. New York City has also adopted its own law, to go into effect April 1, 2019. While the two laws overlap in many respects, there are some key differences.
Once the law goes into effect, Employers must ensure that their annual training programs meet certain minimum requirements. In other words, providing just any training will not ensure compliance with the new law(s). Training seminars must provide, among other things, specific examples of inappropriate conduct as well as provide employees an explanation of their rights to file outside charges and complaints with federal and state agencies and courts.
Employers must also ensure that their policy meets the specific requirements of the new law such. For example, your policy must include a complaint form to be used by employees and detail a clear procedure employers will follow when investigating claims.
The new law for New York City employers imposes additional burdens upon employers such as certain notice requirements and an obligation to maintain certain records for three (3) years.
What once was merely recommended will now be required. Employers with 15 or more employees should have their current anti-harassment policy reviewed for legal compliance with the new law(s). Employers should also begin planning to offer the soon to be required training. When considering different training options, make sure your training program will address allof the required areas stated in the new law(s). Providing training which is not compliant with the new law will not help you. This is not merely a time to check a box and say “we’ve done it”. A thorough review of the training program must be conducted to ensure that it meets the requirements of the soon to be law.
Deena B. Rosendahl, Esq.
Contact Ms. Rosendahl at 201-947-8855 or Drosendahl@Northjerseyattorneys.com to arrange for a review and update of your current policy, as well as to inquire about available training programs which are compliant with the new law.