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New York Enacts Broad Anti-Sexual Harassment Regulations

On April 12, 2018, the state of New York added four provisions into its budget that significantly expand protections for workplace sexual harassment.
First, the state anti-discrimination law will now prohibit employers from allowing sexual harassment against non-employees in the workplace. Contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants, or anyone providing service pursuant to a contract and all of their respective employees are now protected from sexual harassment in their workplace. Employers will be liable for the sexual harassment of those non-employees if they knew, or should have known, that any of the above non-employees were subjected to harassment and they failed to take “immediate and appropriate corrective action.”
Next, New York employers are legally required to create and implement a written sexual harassment policy by October 9, 2018. All policies must at a minimum meet the standards established by the New York Department of Labor (DOL) and the Division of Human Rights (DHR). Employers are allowed to use their own policies if those policies: expressly prohibit harassment; provide examples of prohibited conduct; provide notice of federal and state protections concerning harassment and victims’ remedies; have a standard complaint form; lay out the procedure for timely and confidential investigation of complaints; and advise employees of all available administrative and judicial forums for sexual harassment complaints.
Employers must also provide annual sexual harassment prevention training for all of their employees. A model program will be provided by the DOL and DHR. Employers may use their own training but it must meet specific criteria. The criteria is very similar to that required of sexual harassment policies with the added element of interactive training.
Finally, as of July 11, 2018, New York employers may not include nondisclosure agreements or confidentiality provisions in sexual harassment settlement agreements (unless the complainant prefers it) nor may they require mandatory arbitration.