As all of us are aware, on October 1, 2018, New York State released final guidance on the state’s new sexual harassment prevention laws and regulations. The new legislation requires all employers in New York State to publish policies concerning sexual harassment, adopt a sexual harassment complaint form, and conduct sexual harassment training. The state also recommends a posting as part of the policy and complaint procedure. The advice I provide to all of my clients is, to utilize the state recommended posting and post the policy and complaint form near the labor posters as well. New York City requires employers to have a posting in the workplace, with differing requirements then the state regarding training, policy, etc.
Legal Requirements in New York State:
- New York State Claim Filing (1-year to file with the NYS Department of Human Rights & 3-years to file in NYS Supreme Court)
- Damages & Remedies (Back Pay, Front Page, Compensatory Damages, Interest on Back Pay & Attorney’s Fees)
- Not Training Employees (Civil Fine up to $100,000.00, Litigation Penalty, Order to Comply, Contempt of Court & Stop Work Order)
- First Round of Training done by 10/9/2019
- New Hires after 10/9/2019 (as quickly as possible)
- Examples and explanations are imperative in the training, remember to engage the workforce
- Training Recommendations (Board of Directors & Volunteers)
- Training Considerations (Sign-in/Sign-Out Sheet, Training Materials, Video of Training, Certificate of Completion)
- Interactive (Web-based questions at the end of section, answers to questions, option to submit a question online and receive an answer, questions throughout a live training, feedback survey for employees to turn in after they have completed the training, roleplaying, open discussion, scenarios, open activities, small group activities, etc.)
These are just a few of the legal requirements as outlined by New York State and the Department of Human Rights. All employers should be committed to training employees, managers, board of directors and volunteers annually. There is no justification not to train, as it is required under the new law. A quick policy review training, will not suffice the requirements as outlined by New York State and the Department of Human Rights. This is not a complex training and can be completed in 2-hours, or less. The majority of my trainings last between 2 and 2.5 hours. Great discussions in a small group setting, with interactive case discussions.
Below are Training Reminders:
- An explanation of sexual harassment and specific examples of inappropriate conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment.
- Detailed information concerning federal, state and local laws and the remedies available to victims of harassment.
- A review of any additional local policies, employer’s standards and organizational practices.
- Detail regarding any internal process that employees are encouraged to use to complain, and the contact information with specific names and offices with which employees should file their complaints.
- A review of supervisor and managers responsibilities in addressing this form of employee misconduct. (as needed in supervisor/management sessions)
- An explanation of employees’ external rights of redress and the available administrative and judicial forums for bringing complaints.
- A review of the employer complaint form.
- Employer procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints that ensures due process for all parties.
- Retaliation against individuals who complain of sexual harassment or who testify or assist in any investigation or proceeding involving sexual harassment is unlawful.
- Quiz design and use to end the session. (discussion cases throughout)
- Question and answer session with feedback
- All other requirements as outlined under federal and state law
- Any and all over legally required information by New York State, NYC or local legislation
The tools and resources that were released on October 1 include:
- Updated website with resources for employers, employees, state contractors and targets of sexual harassment
- Updated model sexual harassment prevention policy
- Updated model sexual harassment complaint form
- Updated model training (script book and PowerPoint presentation)
- Updated minimum standards for sexual harassment prevention policies and trainings
- Updated FAQs
- Toolkits for employers and employees and a sexual harassment prevention policy poster are also being made available.
New York: NYC Mandates Annual Anti-Harassment Training (4/1/19)[i]
“The Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act requires New York City employers with 15 or more employees to provide annual interactive training to prevent sexual harassment for all employees, including interns and supervisory and managerial employees.
Such training is also required for new employees within 90 days of hire (however, an employee who has received sexual-harassment training at one employer within the required training cycle does not need to receive additional training at another employer until the next cycle).
The act defines “interactive training” as “participatory teaching whereby the trainee is engaged in a trainer-trainee interaction, use of audio-visuals, computer or online training program or other participatory forms of training as determined by the commission.””[ii]
Remember, New York City has different requirements then the rest of New York State. I’m happy to work with any employer on training (in-person, remote or virtually), policy drafting, complaint form, posting and other requirements. If you have questions, seek guidance, this is now required throughout the state. Remember, remote workers need to be trained as well. The state provides all employers with the resources and tools to implement a legal policy, complaint form, training material and a posting. This is an easy training to implement into any organization, large or small.
Mandatory New York Poster Change – April 2019
The New York time off to vote posting has been updated with a mandatory change due to a change in the election law increasing the time employees are allowed off to vote to three hours. These changes do happen throughout the year, not always at the end of the year.
The State of Maine Bans Salary-History Inquiries
“Maine recently became the latest state to ban employers from asking job candidates about their current or past earnings…In addition to Maine, seven states prohibit private employers from asking about past pay: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon and Vermont. Some localities also ban such inquiries, including Cincinnati (starting in 2020), New York City, Philadelphia (pending a legal challenge), Puerto Rico and San Francisco, as well as several counties in New York.”[iii]
USCIS Issues Policy Guidance Clarifying How Federal Controlled Substances Law Applies to Naturalization Determinations
USCIS is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify that violations of federal controlled substance law, including violations involving marijuana, are generally a bar to establishing good moral character for naturalization, even where that conduct would not be an offense under state law. The policy guidance also clarifies that an applicant who is involved in certain marijuana-related activities may lack good moral character if found to have violated federal law, even if such activity has been decriminalized under applicable state laws.
Since 1996, some states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to decriminalize the manufacture, possession, distribution, and use of both medical and non-medical (recreational) marijuana in their respective jurisdictions. However, federal law classifies marijuana as a “Schedule I” controlled substance whose manufacture (which includes production, such as planting, cultivation, growing, or harvesting), distribution, dispensing, or possession may lead to immigration consequences.[iv]
A federal judge ordered the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to collect employee pay data—sorted by race, ethnicity and sex—by Sept. 30. The EEOC said it will open an online portal to start collecting the information from employers by July 15.[v]
[i] Burr Consulting Article 4/1/2019
[ii] SHRM Update
[v] SHRM Email