#MeToo and New York Employers

Both New York State and New York City recently passed a number of different laws that will expand protections for sexual harassment at work. Below are the key takeaways from the New York State and City laws that employers need to know.

New York State

Mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment claims is now prohibited. This means that employers cannot require employees to submit sexual harassment claims to arbitration.

Non‑employees are now covered. Coverage is now extended to non‑employees, such as contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants, and other persons who provide services under a contract. Employers will be liable for sexual harassment involving these types of non‑employees if the employer knew or should have known about the harassment and failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.

Non‑disclosure provisions will be prohibited. Settlement agreements for sexual harassment claims containing non‑disclosure provisions, without the express consent of the complaining party, are unenforceable unless the complaining party consents.

Mandatory annual sexual harassment training. Effective October 9, 2018, all employers will be required to provide annual sexual harassment training to all employees. The NYS Division of Human Rights will develop a training program and draft a model sexual harassment policy for employers to use. Alternatively, employers can create their own policy or training program, as long as they equal or exceed the standards in the State’s model.

New York City

This law imposes a mandatory poster and handout requirement. Employers will be required to display the sexual harassment rights and responsibilities poster created by the New York City Human Rights Commission in a conspicuous place. It would also require employers to provide an information sheet on sexual harassment, also to be developed by the Commission, to new employees at the time of hire.

All employers would be covered. The existing City law prohibiting gender‑based harassment now applies to all employers, regarding of size.

Like the State law, the City law contains specific types of topics that must be contained in the annual training, including:

Important Take Aways for Employers

Affected employers should review their policies, procedures and training to ensure compliance as there are penalties for violations. Even if your company already has trainings in place, those policies should be reviewed for compliance with the minimum standards set by the new State and City laws.

More comprehensive information on compliance and liability avoidance to supplement this brief summary will be periodically published by CLIFTON BUDD & DEMARIA, LLP as developments under the new laws arise: this information may be accessed by visiting www.cbdm.com.

About the Author
Alfred T. DeMaria
Of Counsel
Alfred T. DeMaria is a Senior Partner at Clifton Budd & DeMaria, LLP. He is recognized as one of the preeminent management labor...
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