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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Are you compliant with the new regulations in New York?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Heather Firetog Schultz
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Effective October 9, 2018, all employers must adopt an anti-sexual harassment policy, and provide a written copy of the policy and annual training to all employees. An employer that does not adopt the state’s model policy must ensure that the policy that they adopt meets or exceeds the minimum standards in the model policy. Key provisions of the model policy include:

  •  It must establish “zero-tolerance” for any form of sexual harassment. Notably absent are terms generally used in current policies – “unwelcome,” “severe,” and “pervasive;”
  •  Definition of harassment and the examples given in the policy are consistent with current best practices;
  •  Makes clear the New York law protects not just employees, but paid/unpaid interns, non-employees, independent contractors, vendors, clients, customers, and visitors;
  •  Includes requirement that supervisors and managers report sexual harassment;
  •  Includes a detailed complaint procedure – including a mandate to use a Complaint  Form (https://www.ny.gov/sites/ny.gov/files/atoms/files/ComplaintformSexualHarassment.pdf);
  •  Requires that “all complaints” be thoroughly investigated within 30 days of receipt, and that perpetrators will be subject to remedial and/or disciplinary actions up to and including termination;
  •  Provides information about external remedies available to employees (the NYS Division of Human Rights, EEOC, police and other local authorities) 

Employers doing business with NYS must submit an affirmation that they have a sexual harassment policy that meets minimum standards and that they have trained all of their employees starting January 1, 2019.

 

In releasing these documents, Governor Cuomo also concentrated review of all complaints of employment discrimination harassment by people working for NYS entities in the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER). Specifically, Executive Order 187 (https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/EO187.pdf) advances the goal of avoiding conflicts of interest and ensuring timely, thorough investigation of complaints filed by employees, contractors, interns or other persons engaged in employment for state agencies. Further, it establishes the Governor’s Committee for Diversity Inclusion and Equal Opportunity to formulate and coordinate plans, policies and programs related to diversity and inclusion in all state entities. The Executive Order also requires development of comprehensive statewide objectives for employment of minorities, women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) individuals, disabled persons and veterans in state entities. Each state entity will designate a diversity and inclusion officer, and will be subject to regular reporting and accountable for compliance under the direction of the Commissioner of Civil Service and a newly created Office of Diversity Management within the Department of Civil Service.

 

Information provided by Brown & Weinraub, PLLC


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