New York State Issues Additional Anti-Harassment Guidance

As New York State employers are now aware – as a result of amendments to the New York State Human Rights Law (“Law”) in 2018 – all employers in New York State are required to adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy and provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to all employees. As we previously reported in our August client alert, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed additional amendments to the Law imposing significant new obligations on employers regarding anti-harassment policies and training. One of these new requirements is that “at the time of hire” and at every annual sexual harassment prevention training, employers must provide every employee with a notice containing the employer’s sexual harassment prevention policy and complaint form, as well as the training materials presented at the employer’s sexual harassment prevention training program. New York State has now issued a template Sexual Harassment Prevention Notice for employees to meet this obligation and updated the FAQs on its Combating Sexual Harassment website to provide additional guidance to employers.

According to the recently updated FAQs, the notice and the employer’s sexual harassment prevention policy, complaint form and training materials can be delivered digitally or in print. If delivered digitally, the other documents must be attached or linked to the notice, and if they are made available on a work computer, employees must be able to print a copy for their records. Training materials that must be provided include any printed material, scripts, Q&As, outlines, handouts, PowerPoint slides, etc.

The Law also requires that the notice and the employer’s policy and training materials be provided – at the time of hire and at every annual sexual harassment prevention training program – in English and in the language identified by each employee as his or her primary language, if it is Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Haitian-Creole, Bengali or Italian. Materials in these other languages are available at the Combating Sexual Harassment website. However, the FAQs state that employers are strongly encouraged to provide training and the required documents in whatever language might be an employee’s primary language even if it is not one of the identified languages, as employers may be held liable for the conduct of all of their employees.

The notice also requires employers to designate a person or office to whom individuals can go to with questions or to file a complaint, and to provide appropriate contact information. The updated FAQs state that new employees should receive the notice, policy and training materials prior to or at the beginning of their first day of work. The FAQs still state that training of new employees should occur as soon as possible.

Employers should take the appropriate steps to ensure that the notice and their policy, complaint form and all training materials are distributed to new employees upon hire, and to all employees when they receive their annual sexual harassment prevention training.

Additional Assistance

Should you have any questions regarding New York State’s additional anti-harassment guidance, or any other labor and employment matter, please contact any of the attorneys on our Labor & Employment Practice Team.