Jeffrey Ettenger, Esq - February 2019

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February 2019 Edition

BIG CHANGES TO NEW YORK’S SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAW: WHAT EVERY EMPLOYER MUST KNOW
Jeffrey Ettenger, Esq., Schwartz Ettenger PLLC


Last year, Governor Cuomo signed into law a comprehensive policy mandating that all New York State employers provide annual sexual harassment prevention training and a sexual harassment prevention policy to all employees. The provisions apply to every employer regardless of the size of their business so it will impact even small food and beverage companies and restaurants.

February 2019 Edition

BIG CHANGES TO NEW YORK’S SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAW: WHAT EVERY EMPLOYER MUST KNOW

The New York State law requires the following:

  • As of October 9, 2018, every employer must have a written sexual harassment prevention policy in place that meets the state’s requirements and distribute it to all its employees.
  • By October 9, 2019, every employer is required to provide interactive sexual harassment prevention training to all employees located in New York State and continue to provide it on an annual basis. 
  • Employers can either use the state’s model sexual harassment prevention training program or establish their own training program that equals or exceeds the minimum standards provided by the model.
  • The training is required to be interactive. It can be performed in person or on the internet, but employees must be able to ask questions and receive answers from a live person.
  • An “employee” under the law includes all workers, regardless of immigration status. “Employee” also includes part-time workers, seasonal workers and temporary workers.
  • New hires must receive training “as soon as possible” after hiring. It is recommended that even if these employees received training by their prior employer, that the new employer provide said training.
  • Employers should provide employees with training in the language spoken by their employees. The State does offer template training in other languages. 

New York City has its own law, which has additional requirements:

  • As of September 9, 2018, all employers in New York City are required to post an anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities poster in English and Spanish and provide an information fact sheet on sexual harassment to each employee at the time of hire (which can be included in an employee handbook).  
  • Beginning April 1, 2019, all New York City employers with 15 or more employees must provide interactive sexual harassment prevention training to all full and part-time employees and interns annually, and to new employees within 90 days of hire.
  • New York City’s training requirements are similar to the state’s rules, but not identical. In some instances, the city law goes beyond the training content required by the state law.
  • New York City employers must keep in mind that they are required to comply with both the state and the city laws.

In addition to the provisions regarding sexual harassment prevention training and written policies, the law enacted other changes, including the following:

  • Effective July 11, 2018, employers are prohibited from requiring employees to agree to arbitrate sexual harassment claims.
  • Effective July 11, 2018, confidentiality agreements as part of sexual harassment claim settlements are not enforceable unless it is the complainant’s preference to have the terms remain confidential and it meets other requirements. 
  • Effective April 2018, employer liability has been expanded to cover sexual harassment towards a non-employee who is a contractor, sub-contractor, vendor, consultant or other person providing services pursuant to a contract in the workplace.

As noted above, the training deadline is October 9, 2019. Business owners cannot afford to delay because of the time needed to develop materials and organize and conduct training for all employees. Employers should contact a qualified attorney to discuss how to ensure their compliance with the law.

Read more about the law’s requirements at https://www.setrainingny.com/new-york-law/.

 

Jeffrey S. Ettenger, Esq. is a partner at Schwartz Ettenger PLLC where he concentrates his practice in the area of labor and employment law, assisting employers with their day-to-day employment needs, as well as all areas of employment litigation. He is also a Principal of SE Training LLC, which provides sexual harassment prevention training that complies with the New York State and City requirements. Contact Jeff at 631-777-2401 x22 or jse@selawny.com.