The state of New York has put out tough new legislation aiming to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. The new laws, approved by the New York State Legislature this past March and signed into law last week, cover a wide angle of issues from training and prevention to appropriate claim forms and investigation policies for when a sexual harassment complaint arises at work. After a sordid year of employees and individuals nationwide stepping forward to report unwanted sexual advances and abuses of power by their superiors, New York State and NYC lawmakers have stepped up to increase sexual harassment protections statewide.
The new legislation entails establishing mandatory sexual harassment training and policies for all employers. By October 9, 2018 all employers must adopt the state’s model sexual harassment policy and training program or develop their own that meets or exceeds the standards contained in the model. The policies must be distributed in writing and be accompanied by an interactive prevention training that helps explain that sexual harassment is prohibited, gives examples of what constitutes sexual harassment, explains which federal, state and local laws apply and what remedies are available for victims. Additionally, everyone must receive a standard complaint form and understand the procedure for a timely and confidential investigation of complaints and the repercussions for individuals engaging in sexual harassment as well as supervisory personnel who knowingly allowed the behavior. Finally, a statement must be distributed that individuals who report or assist in any sexual harassment proceedings may not be retaliated against under the law.
In addition to these new mandatory policies and training measures, as of July 11, 2018, companies will no longer be able to demand confidential settlements unless the complainant chooses to have it set up that way. The legislation will also try and prohibit companies from mandating arbitration any sexual allegation claims. Also, this legislation includes a provision that aims to cover non employees such as contractors, subcontractors, vendors and consultants that are subject to sexual harassment in the employer’s workplace which takes effect immediately.
If you feel you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace you may have a claim. Reach out to an employment attorney to discuss your situation and see if your employer is handling your claim in accordance with the law. Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP offers a free phone consultation with an available representative that will quickly let you know if we can assist you. Call us now at (212) 300-0375 or visit our website for more information.