Legal Matters with Robert L. Byrne, Esq.
NYS Sexual Harassment amendment to the state’s Labor Law.
New York employers have long been held accountable for workplace sexual harassment. However, as of October, 2018, they are responsible for waging war against sexual harassment as the result of an amendment to the state’s Labor Law.
Section 201-g of the Labor Law mandates that every employer, regardless of size, adopt and distribute a sexual harassment policy that includes the following:
a. The state definition of sexual harassment.
b. An internal reporting procedure.
c. To whom a complaint of harassment should be made.
d. What state and federal agencies enforce the law.
e. What managers’ responsibilities are.
f. A prohibition of retaliation.
g. What remedies are available.
While many mid-size employers, and most large employers, have had sexual harassment policies in place, this new law lands heavily on small employers, since an additional requirement is that every employer must conduct annual sexual harassment training for all employees. This training must be completed by October 9, 2019. New hires must be trained as soon as practical after being hired.
To satisfy the statute and the Department of Labor, the training must be “interactive” and allow for questions and answers. While there is no minimum length to the training, the Department of Labor’s own training template runs for approximately 45 minutes without Q & A. The training is compensable: the employees are “on the clock.”
While the State law does not impose penalties for failure to publish the policy or conduct the training, lack of compliance will be exploited by plaintiffs’ attorneys to insure vicarious liability is imposed on neglectful employers.