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Sexual Assault is Now Every Employer's Business

Beginning on October 9, 2018, every employer in the State of New York is required to adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy pursuant to Section 201-g of the New York Labor Law, which can be found at the following address:

http://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/LAB/201-G

Pursuant to the Labor Law, each employer's policy (even if you only have one employee, though in New York City it is fifteen) must either meet or exceed the following standards:

1. Prohibit sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights;

2. Provide examples of prohibited conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment;

3. Include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment, remedies available to victims of sexual harassment, and a statement that there may be applicable local laws;

4. Include a complaint form;

5. Include a procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints that ensures due process for all parties;

6. Inform employees of their rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially;

7. Clearly state that sexual harassment is considered a form of employee misconduct and that sanctions will be enforced against individuals engaging in sexual harassment and against supervisory and managerial personnel who knowingly allow such behavior to continue; and

8. Clearly state that retaliation against indiviuals who complain of sexual harassment or who testify or assist in any investigation or proceeding involving sexual harassment is unlawful.

The employer's complaint form must include a designated person to deliver complaints to. Firms may choose to designate a member of their staff, such as human resources personnel, or an outside consultant. Employers should consider having one designated person of each sex, so as to make any potential victim more comfortable reporting an incident or pattern of incidents.

In addition to publishing a sexual harassment policy by October 9, 2018, employers are also required to provide sexual harassment training. Employees must be trained or an annual basis and must complete the first training session by October 9, 2019. Employees can satisfy this training requirement utilizing the two model training videos published by New York State. The first can be found at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sL7LwBsV9bM and details what harassment in the workplace is and how supervisors and managers have a heighted responsibility to report harassment that they witness or otherwise become aware of.

The second video is available at the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1za7gs9S2H0 and presents case studies and poses questions to viewers about what they have witnessed in the video. This video satisfies the New York State requirement that the training be "interactive." Employers are required to entertain questions posed by employees and respond to such questions.

If you are concerned that your business's current sexual harassment policy is not compliant with the New York State standards, or you do not yet have a sexual harassment policy in place, contact a member of our Bashian & Farber, LLP team today.

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