Once again, New York has taken the lead on legal issues in the workplace and is doing what it can to discourage sexual harassment on the job.
The city’s Stop Sexual Harassment in New York City Act was signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in May and includes several new laws that together amount to a critical step toward creating safer workspaces in the city.
The Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act amends the city’s current Human Rights Law and the NYC Charter, strengthening the requirements employers have to prevent sexual harassment and inform employees of their rights if they believe sexual harassment is an issue.
The NYC act was passed within weeks of the state’s new budget that also included several significant mandates regarding workplace sexual harassment. There is some overlap within the laws and employers in New York City are required to be familiar with and abide by the requirements set out by both.
You can learn more about how the budget addresses sexual harassment here.
What are some of the noteworthy aspects of the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act?
Sexual Harassment Training
Part of ending sexual harassment in the workplace requires educating employers and employees about what constitutes harassment.
The act requires mandatory anti-harassment training to address a variety of issues for all employers with 15 or more employees. Training must be conducted on an annual basis and include managerial and supervisory employees.
Topics that must be covered during training include defining and giving examples of sexual harassment, discussion of bystander intervention, and an explanation of how to file complaints internally and at the city, state, and federal levels.
The NYC Commission on Human Rights will be developing sexual harassment training modules that can be used to meet the requirement and employees will need to submit signed acknowledgment that they have received training.
Employers will also be required to develop a model sexual harassment prevention policy under the new state budget and distribute the policy in writing to employees, which takes the city’s mandate to distribute anti-harassment information to newly hired employees a step further.
Notice of Rights and Responsibilities
NYC’s law also requires employers to display information about sexual harassment rights and responsibilities, while also distributing the info to new hires. The information must be displayed in both English and Spanish.
Anti-sexual harassment resources also need to be posted on company websites. The goal is to ensure everyone is informed about their rights regarding sexual harassment and that they have access to resources should they experience or witness harassment
Expansion of Existing Protection against Gender-Based Discrimination under the City’s Human Rights Law
The new anti-sexual harassment law also amends the current Human Rights Law regarding claims of gender-based harassment, regardless of company size. The previous law only pertained to companies with four or more employees.
The new law also lengthens the statute of limitations for filing a gender-based discrimination claim with the City Commission to three years.
Finally, the new law addresses city contractors and requires them to include practices, policies, and procedures regarding sexual harassment as part of any existing reports required for certain contracts pursuant to the City Charter and corresponding rules.
In general, New York City employees affected by the new law should review their existing sexual harassment policies to ensure they meet the updated requirements. They should also review the state and city policies and training programs once they are available. They’ll need to plan for annual training programs for employees and managers and provide their human resources staff with resources and information concerning the new law.
Finally, companies affected by both the city and state laws must ensure they meet the minimum requirements under both laws and when there are variances, abide by the more stringent of the two.
If you have questions about New York’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Act or you want to know if your rights have been violated, contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. for more information.