As we have discussed previously,1 New York State and New York City have enacted legislation placing specific requirements on employers to address, resolve, and prevent workplace sexual harassment. Because harassment can—and still does—occur in the virtual workplace, employers must ensure that they remain compliant with the laws in order to provide a harassment-free workplace and mitigate litigation risk.
At both the State and City level, employers are required to provide annual interactive anti-sexual harassment training for employees:
- New York State requires that employees receive annual sexual harassment training. Thus, employers should confirm that their employees have been trained within the last 12 months.
- New York City required employers with 15 or more employees to conduct their first training by December 31, 2019, and annually thereafter. New York City employers should thus be on track to complete their next training by December 31, 2020.
- Both New York State and City employers are also required to conduct training for new employees as soon as possible after hire. However, in New York City training is only required after 90 days of initial hire for full- and part-time employees who work over 80 hours in a calendar year. See New York State FAQs for Employers: Training, Question 3; New York City FAQs, General Training Requirements, Question 15.
Legally compliant training videos from the State are available here. Importantly, the New York City Commission on Human Rights (the Commission) has provided an interactive training video which satisfies the minimum training requirements at both the City and State level.
Use of the Commission's online training video is not required; rather, employers may elect to provide personal, customized training to their employees that is specific to their work environment, as long as it meets both the City and State training requirements.
Every employee in New York State must receive a sexual harassment prevention notice at the time of hiring (either prior to or at the beginning of their first day of work) and during their annual sexual harassment training. This notice must contain:
- (1) The employer's sexual harassment policy; and
- (2) The information presented at the sexual harassment prevention training.
Furthermore, all employers in New York City must "conspicuously display" an anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities poster "in employee breakrooms or other common areas [where] employees gather." City employers must post the required notice in both English and Spanish.
The Commission will also make the notice available in nine additional languages for employers' use. City employers must also distribute an anti-sexual harassment factsheet to individual employees at the time of hire.
Employers have spent the last several months focused on COVID-19-related changes to their workplaces, including the significant adjustment to a temporary or, in some cases, permanent shift to "remote work." Since the virtual workplace is not immune to harassment and the applicable regulations apply to remote workplaces, employers must ensure that their anti-harassment policies and practices remain compliant.
DWT attorneys are available to help employers comply with state-specific anti-harassment reporting, training, and notice requirements and establish workplaces free from all forms of harassment.