The #MeToo movement has motivated the State and City of New York to implement a battery of new sexual harassment laws applicable to all businesses in New York City and New York State. The new New York laws should motivate employers in New York to update NY employment rules, NY employment agreements (if applicable), NY non-disclosure agreements and the New York company’s sexual harassment policies & education programs.
Major Changes to New York Sexual Harassment Laws
- Notification via a Poster of Employees of the Sexual Harassment Policy of New York City
All New York City employers must prominently display an English and Spanish language poster notifying NY employees of their rights and obligations under NY law. The poster was created by the New York City Commission on Human Rights and can be obtained from the Commission.
- Notification via a Fact Sheet of Sexual Harassment Facts
All employers in New York City must provide a Fact Sheet created by the NYC Commission on Human Rights either in the employer handbook or via a handout to the NY employee. The Fact Sheet may be obtained from the Commission.
- Creation of a Detailed Sexual Harassment Policy
All employers in New York State must develop a Sexual Harassment Policy or adopt the policy created by the NY State Department of Labor & the NY State Division of Human Rights. We, highly, recommend NOT adopting the form NY policy. The reality is the for NY policy does not include clauses that may assist employers in mitigating risks and alleviating the burden of false claims.
- Creation of a Sexual Harassment Education Prevention Program
All employers in the state of New York must adopt a Sexual Harassment Prevention Program. Your program can model a program developed by the New York State Department of Labor & the New York State Division of Human Rights. We advise developing a program tailored to the specific employer created Sexual Harassment Policy. New York City has specific regulations mandating a more detailed and more interactive program.
- Prohibition of Arbitration Clauses in NY contracts or NY handbooks
New York State, with the new changes in New York sexual harassment law, prohibits, in many cases, the enforcement of arbitration clauses in sexual harassment disputes with employers.
Additionally, the new sexual harassment policies in New York extend rights to independent contracts and prohibits non-disclosure agreements/clauses in some sexual harassment settlements with employees.
We suggest an immediate HR compliance audit and the hiring of a proactive New York employment lawyer to assist in developing and/or revising your employment policies. The risks have drastically increased.