As mentioned in our prior Alert concerning recent amendments to the state of New York’s laws prohibiting workplace sexual harassment, Mayor de Blasio has similarly followed suit by signing into law multiple bills collectively titled the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act (“Act”) that impose additional requirements on New York City employers to combat sexual harassment at work.
Of particular interest to businesses are the following changes brought about by the Act:
- As of September 6, 2018, NYC employers must display an “anti-harassment rights and responsibilities” poster that is to be designed by the New York City Commission on Human Rights (the “Commission”). The poster is not yet available, but is expected to be prepared in a downloadable form on the Commission’s website prior to the effective date of this obligation.
- Also as of September 6, 2018, NYC employers must provide an information sheet on sexual harassment – to be designed by the Commission – to all new hires. This information sheet may be included in an employee handbook.
- Effective as of April 1, 2019, NYC employers with 15 or more employees will be required to provide annual anti-sexual harassment training to all employees, including interns. (Employers should keep in mind that the annual training requirement imposed by the New York state law takes effect sooner – October 9, 2018 – than the effective date of this part of the Act.) Employers must keep a record of the training for three years and have employees sign acknowledgments (or provide an electronic acknowledgment) of having received the training.
- The Act amends the New York City Human Rights Law, effective immediately, to extend provisions related to gender-based harassment to all NYC employers, regardless of the size of the workforce.
- Additionally, the statute of limitations for filing gender-based harassment claims with the Commission has now been extended from one year to three years from the time that the alleged harassment occurred.
City agencies and the offices of the mayor will have additional obligations relating to combating workplace sexual harassment, including preparing an annual report of incidents and assessments of workplace risk factors.
Given New York state’s and New York City’s recent sweeping enactments in response to the #MeToo movement, employers should renew their commitment to providing workplaces free of sexual harassment even before posters, fact sheets, and model policies and training materials are released by the New York State Department of Labor and the NYC Commission. Since supervisors and management-level employees should lead by example and are often in the best position to detect problems in the workplace, it is vital that employers impress upon those managers and supervisors the importance of not tolerating harassing behavior or retaliatory actions against employees who complain about being harassed. It’s not just the law; it is the right thing to do to provide a respectful workplace.