New York State and New York City have new laws to battle sexual harassment in the workplace. If you are an employer doing business in New York State or in New York City, you need to be aware of your obligations under both state and city law and comply with their requirements to avoid fines and other potential liability. If you are an employee, you should be aware that your right to be free from sexual harassment in the workplace has been expanded.
At Raff & Becker, LLP, our New York sexual harassment lawyers know it can be challenging to understand your obligations as an employer or, if you are an employee, your rights under the law. We are here to help you navigate the complex legal landscape, so please contact our office to schedule a consultation regarding anti-sexual harassment laws today.
New York State Requirements for Sexual Harassment
All employers, regardless of size, doing business in New York State must create and distribute a sexual harassment policy that complies with or exceeds the Model Sexual Harassment Policy published by New York State, which can be found at https://www.ny.gov/combating-sexual-harassment-workplace/employers.
Additionally, New York State employers must conduct training for all employees on an annual basis in accordance with the requirements set forth at https://www.ny.gov/combating-sexual-harassment-workplace/employers.
Employers must also be prepared to investigate and remediate sexual harassment against non-employees in their workplaces. Specifically, an employer may be liable for sexual harassment of non-employees, such as contractors, vendors and consultants, by its employee(s) if it knew of such harassment and failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.
Employees, especially, should be aware that where an employer and its employee settle a sexual harassment complaint, New York State law prohibits the employer from insisting upon a non-disclosure provision as part of the agreement unless certain conditions are met. A settlement agreement may contain a non-disclosure provision only if the complaining party requests it and if the language is provided to all parties before it is finalized. In addition, the employee making the sexual harassment complaint must be given 21 days to decide whether to accept or to reject the non-disclosure language and then must be allowed a seven day revocation period to revoke his or her acceptance of the language. If the complaining party revokes acceptance of the non-disclosure language, then the entire agreement is revoked.
Further, New York State law now prohibits mandatory arbitration of future sexual harassment claims. Once a dispute arises, the employer and the employee may agree to arbitrate the claims. In a union setting, though, the language of the collective bargaining agreement about arbitration of sexual harassment claims controls.
New York City Law has Additional Employer Sexual Harassment Requirements
For employers with employees in New York City, it is not enough to comply with New York State laws regarding sexual harassment. New York City has its own set of laws that employers must also comply with to avoid liability.
Employers in New York City with 15 or more employees must conduct sexual harassment training sessions every year to educate them about their rights.
The New York City Commission on Human Rights (Commission) will develop an online training program, which employers can use as their own program in satisfaction of the training requirements. As an alternative, employers may create their own training curriculum so long as it meets certain minimum requirements, which can be found at https://www1.nyc.gov/site/cchr/law/stop-sexual-harassment-act.page.
Employers must keep records regarding these training sessions, including signed statements by employees in attendance. These records must be kept for at least three years and must be made available for inspection upon request.
In addition to providing training to their employees, New York City employers must display employee rights and obligations regarding sexual harassment, in a conspicuous location. When onboarding new hires, companies must present a fact sheet regarding the same information within the employee manual.
Employers in New York City must also ensure that they, and their supervisory and managerial employees, do not retaliate against employees who file complaints of sexual harassment, report instances of sexual harassment, participate in an investigation, or engage in other activities that are protected by law.
Schedule a Consultation with our Employment Law Attorneys Today
For most employers, compliance with New York State's and New York City's sexual harassment laws can be challenging and time consuming. For a fuller understanding, contact the employment law attorneys at Raff & Becker, LLP, who can explain your obligations and assist you with compliance with the least possible interruption of your business operations.
We can also provide the training that complies with New York State and New York City requirements, as well as other services, such as investigating complaints of sexual harassment and preparing settlement agreements that comply with all legal requirements.
If you are an employee who is being, or has been, subjected to sexual harassment, we can inform you about the law, advise you about your rights and help you assert your rights in the complex administrative and legal forums.
So whether you are an employer or an employee, contact our knowledgeable employment law attorneys at Raff & Becker, LLP at 212.577.9239 or through our website. We will be happy to schedule a consultation and speak with you about your particular concerns