In April, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the 2019 New York State Budget into law. The budget includes several new regulations about the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace. The following will examine these new laws and their potential effect on businesses in New York.
Protection of Independent Contractors from Sexual Harassment
The first significant change pertains to protecting independent contractors from sexual harassment. Traditionally, it has been harder for independent contractors to file lawsuits against employers than traditional employees. The 2019 New York Budget changes this by including provisions that protect vendors, subcontractors, contractors, and other types of consultants who provide services in the workplace from sexual harassment.
Sexual Harassment Training Increases
The second change in the new budget will require businesses to implement employee training for sexual harassment. As of October 2018, the law requires all employers in New York state to adopt a specific sexual harassment prevention policy and implement a training program that meets or exceeds New York’s minimum standards.
The last significant new development is that all businesses that contract with the State of New York must submit a statement to the state affirming that they have a known sexual harassment policy and that they similarly provide annual employee training on sexual harassment prevention.
I am a Business Owner, What Should My Sexual Harassment Policy Include?
Every single New York employer must adopt an anti-sexual harassment policy. Not having a policy will put you at risk of breaking the law in New York. According to the State of New York’s website, your policy must do the following:
- List specific examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment as being prohibited.
- Prohibit sexual harassment as defined by the Department of Labor in consultation with the New York Division of Human rights.
- Include a complaint form that employees can fill out.
- Include a specific procedure that ensures a confidential and timely investigation with due process for all people involved.
- State the rights that employees have of redress and list the forums available for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints.
- State that retaliation against employees who file a sexual harassment complaint or testify against someone else accused of sexual harassment is unlawful.
- State that sexual harassment constitutes misconduct by an employee. State that those who sexually harass others along with management that knowingly allows sexual harassment will be subject to fines.
- Include federal and state laws regarding sexual harassment, list the available remedies for sexual harassment and note that local rules may apply.
The State of New York offers model sexual harassment training materials for employers. If the employer does not use the model training guideline, the training must meet many other guidelines set forth by the new state laws.
Being the victim of sexual harassment can have many adverse effects on one’s life. Has an employer or co-worker sexually harassed you in your workplace? Are you a business owner in New York who needs to ensure that your sexual harassment prevention policies are in line with the new, stricter laws? Contact attorneys with experience in New York sexual harassment lawsuits today.