In April of 2018, New York State passed new legislation requiring that New York employers have a written sexual harassment prevention policy in place by October 9, 2018. In addition, the new law mandates that employers provide sexual harassment training for employees by January 1, 2019.
Recently, in compliance with the new laws, and ahead of the October 9th deadline, the New York State Department of Labor (DOL), in coordination with the New York State Division of Human Rights, issued guidance along with a model sexual harassment policy and model complaint form for reporting sexual harassment.
According to the DOL, the model policy and forms have been designed for you to comply with the new laws by simply adding your company name to them, and implement and follow the model policy accordingly. You can implement your own policy as long as it meets the following criteria:
- Prohibits sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the DOL in consultation with the Division of Human Rights.
- Provides examples of prohibited conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment.
- Includes information about the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment remedies available to victims of sexual harassment, and a statement that there may be applicable local laws.
- Includes a complaint form.
- Includes a procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints that ensures due process for all parties.
- Informs employees of their rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially.
- Clearly states that sexual harassment is considered a form of employee misconduct and that sanctions will be enforced against individuals engaging in sexual harassment and against supervisory and managerial personnel who knowingly allow such behavior to continue.
- Clearly states that retaliation against individuals who complain of sexual harassment or who testify or assist in any investigation or proceeding involving sexual harassment is unlawful.
New York City Employer Sexual Harassment Policy Requirements
New York City (NYC) has also enacted similar laws — independent of the State laws — requiring that NYC-based employers have a sexual harassment policy and training program in place. However, the NYC requirements are so similar to the State laws, that following the State requirements will comply with both.
Information has not been released yet regarding specific penalties for non-compliance with either the State or City laws, however, it is crucial that our New York-based clients are aware of these laws, and are in full compliance with the new rules. Non-compliance could certainly play a significant role, should any complaints of sexual harassment ever be brought against them.
How MBAF Can Help
While developing and implementing HR policies such as a sexual harassment protocol is not within MBAF’s core service offerings, we recognize the importance of compliance with these new requirements for our New York State and NYC clients. We would be happy to refer you to the appropriate legal counsel to ensure that your business is in compliance by the upcoming October 9, 2018 deadline.
At MBAF, we recognize that providing our clients with timely and sound advice is not only related to tax and accounting issues. It is our goal to serve your organization in any way that we can.