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With the state budget bill for the 2019 fiscal year comes a package of new anti-sexual harassment laws. Recently signed on April 12, 2018, the provisions of these laws, their impact on the workplace, and their effective dates vary. Below is a summary of the new regulations of which New York employers should be aware.
Sexual Harassment Training and Policies, effective October 9, 2018. Employers are required to adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy. The policy must be distributed in written format to all employees. The law also mandates annual sexual harassment training. Employers may use model policies and training programs developed by the New York State Department of Labor and New York State Division of Human Rights, or may develop their own policy and training program.
Additionally, entities bidding for state contracts must certify that they have implemented a written policy and provide annual training.
Prohibition of Nondisclosure Provisions in Settlements for Harassment Claims, effective July 11, 2018. Employers may not include a nondisclosure/privacy provision in any settlement agreement for a sexual harassment claim. Such confidentiality may be included only if the complainant requests it, and the complainant must be given a 21-day period to consider the confidentiality language, plus an additional seven-day revocation period.
Prohibition of Mandatory Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Claims, effective July 11, 2018. Similarly, employers may not include a mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment allegations/claims provision in any contract, except where inconsistent with the Federal Arbitration Act. Such mandatory arbitration provisions will be invalidated and severed from the remainder of the contract.
Sexual Harassment Protections Apply to Non-Employees, effective April 12, 2018. The protections of New York’s anti-sexual harassment laws are now extended to not only employees, but also non-employee individuals present in the workplace (e.g., contractors, subcontractors, vendors, or consultants, among others).
- Develop a written sexual harassment prevention policy and training program.
- Review employment agreements with legal counsel for consistency with the new regulations.
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Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.
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