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New sexual harassment laws begin to take effect in New York

Since the beginning of the #MeToo movement, states have been implementing new policies to protect their workers to prevent any further victims of discrimination. Sexual harassment has been one of the primary focuses of discussion, so the nation is placing more effort into improving the work environment for all genders.

New York has been one of the faster states to pass new sexual harassment laws, so much so that some of them are already in effect without some employers realizing it. It is important to be aware of these new changes so your company will make more efforts towards preventing discrimination as soon as possible.

A new prevention policy

Technically, this should be at your workplace by now. The state required employers to share their updated sexual harassment policy by October 9. Even if your employer already has a policy prior to the law, they may have to update certain parts to meet the state’s new minimum standards.

These new minimum standards on the policy should include:

  • A prohibition any sexual harassment outlined by the Department of Labor and Division of Human Rights
  • Examples of unlawful conduct
  • Federal and state laws on sexual harassment and where victims can go to for help
  • A complaint form
  • Instructions for proceedings with an investigation
  • A reminder of the employee’s rights
  • What will be enforced for guilty parties
  • A statement that retaliation against any potential victims or assistants in the investigation is unlawful

If you have not received any of this information or the policy did not include one of these minimum standards, you should contact your employer and inform them of the issue.

Scheduled prevention training

Arguably some of the biggest news to come from the new laws is that all employers in New York must require their employees to complete sexual harassment training annually. The employees must complete this new training with updated minimum standards by October 9, 2019.

Some companies are still not familiar with these new requirements. Many small businesses may have not had problems in the past and only work with a couple of people, so they may feel it is not necessary. Even though the state does not monitor the training in each company or require proof that they completed it, they will have a higher chance of receiving charges if any sexual harassment issues arise under their watch.

Contractor confirmation

These new laws do not just extend to full time employees. Starting in January 2019, New York requires state contractors to confirm their new sexual harassment policy and that all their employees have received proper training. It also clarifies that they can use nondisclosure agreements when the confidentiality is the victim’s preference. This is a large step forward because many companies used confidentiality agreements in the past to silence victims or avoid any liability with discrimination in the workplace.

All New York employers should be keeping up with these deadlines to ensure that their employees have full awareness of sexual harassment issues and to prevent any more potential victims. Some may be taken aback by what they must do now and may not like spending extra time to do this, but it is a necessary step to take to ensure that they have a functional and safe work environment free of controversy. If your employer is procrastinating on their duties to protect their workers, an employment law attorney may be necessary to improving your environment.

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