New York anti-harassment laws are among the most well-known in the United States. If you work for or manage a company in New York state, you are probably well acquainted with them. As of this year, however, state legislature introduced some big changes to the previous anti-harassment training standards. The 2019 New York Budget Law requires a new, stricter model for workplace anti-harassment training that all employees must undergo. In this blog post, we review the existing law and the new additions alike to make sure that you’re up to date.
Review of Existing Laws
The New York State Human Rights Law sets the standard for compliance in the Empire State. This law, which is quite lengthy, essentially outlines in detail the ways in which it is unlawful to discriminate based on the following protected categories: age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, familial status, marital status, or domestic violence victimhood. As you can see, the list of protected categories is very expansive. And for good reason. Under this law, people from all backgrounds and identities are protected from discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
It’s also vital to remember that sexual harassment falls under the category of sex-based discrimination in New York, which means that it is illegal and punishable by law. To avoid litigation and maintain a safe workplace, you need to be aware of and comply with all of the new changes that came with the 2019 Budget Act.
So What’s New?
The short answer is a lot. In response to the #MeToo movement, New York implemented numerous changes to existing laws to crack down on harassment and discrimination in every work environment. A full summary of the 2019 Budget Act’s effects is available here. Notably, the new law brought significant changes to the New York Human Rights Act, Executive Law, General Obligations Law, and the Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR). With these huge changes, we know it can be difficult to keep track of everything, so we’re going to highlight some of the new additions to which New York businesses must also comply. Per New York’s government guidelines, here are a few things that the new law requires:
1. Every employer must compose and adopt a sexual harassment policy. A government model sexual harassment policy can be found here. It’s not mandatory to use the government model, but your policy must meet or exceed the minimum requirements. Those requirements are available at the same link as the model policy.
2. All employers must include a complaint form with their sexual harassment policy. This form is the best way for employees to report their allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace. There is also a government model for complaint forms available at this link. Like the sexual harassment policy, the complaint form does not have to be the same as the government model, but it must meet or exceed the minimum requirements.
3. As of October, 2018, all employers must provide sexual harassment prevention training in compliance with the new law’s standards. The New York Department of Labor and the Division of Human Rights have come together to create their own training program. However, employers are not restricted to the government-sponsored training model. The training must adhere to the minimum standards.
These guidelines by no means encompass all of the changes introduced by the 2019 Budget Act, but they are some of the most pertinent to both supervisors and employees in New York.
How to Prepare for the Changes
As with any compliance laws, there are steps you can take to understand and prepare for the new California compliance laws. For more in-depth strategies for keeping your compliance policy up to snuff, read this blog.
- Research the new laws.
- Consult an attorney to help you update your compliance policy.
- Conduct a regularly scheduled mock risk assessment.
- Document your compliance policy and re-evaluate it yearly.
- Train your employees.
DigitalChalk Can Help
Training is critical to understanding the new California anti-harassment laws. That’s why it’s important to find a training solution that is innovative, effective, and easy to use. That’s where DigitalChalk comes in. Check out our on-demand course library for up-to-date California Anti-Harassment training: