Significant changes lie ahead for New York employers. As part of its annual budget process, New York State has amended its laws and rules to target sexual harassment in the workplace. Some of the major changes include:
- Employers may be held liable for sexual harassment of non-employees in the workplace, including contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants, etc.
- Employers may not have employees sign mandatory arbitration clauses which cover claims of sexual harassment (effective July 11, 2018)
- Employers may not have employees sign nondisclosure agreements covering claims of sexual harassment, unless it is the employee’s preference and specific procedures are followed (effective July 11, 2018)
- Employers must have a written sexual harassment prevention policy and provide it to all employees (effective Oct. 9, 2018)
- Employers must conduct sexual harassment prevention training on an annual basis (effective Oct. 9, 2018)
Additionally, New York City is on the verge of enacting the “Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act,” which would require employers to conduct annual anti-sexual harassment training for all employees, including interns. Under the proposed New York City law, these mandatory annual trainings would be “interactive” and involve “participatory teaching,” and would have to achieve the following objectives:
- Explain that sexual harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination
- Educate employees about retaliation being prohibited
- Encourage bystanders to intervene and take action
- Identify specific examples of conduct that constitute sexual harassment
- Inform employees how they can make complaints about sexual harassment
New York employers should promptly review their employment documents, policies, and procedures, and prepare to conduct annual anti-sexual harassment training to ensure compliance with the new law(s). We at Lowenstein Sandler routinely review employer policies and present anti-sexual harassment trainings, and would be pleased to assist as needed.