New York State and New York City Anti-Harassment Laws

September 25, 2018

New York State and New York City have each recently enacted laws in regard to sexual harassment in the work place.  These laws both introduce new requirements in regard to notices and training.

The following is a short summary of those laws.

The New York State Law

The following New York State laws apply to all employers, regardless of the number of employees:

  • Starting October 9, 2018, employers must distribute written anti-sexual harassment policies to all of their employees. State agencies will create and publish a model sexual harassment prevention guide and a sexual harassment prevention policy. Employers must adopt this model or establish their own policy that equals or exceeds the minimum standard provided in the model policy.
  • Starting October 9, 2018, employers must provide annual anti-harassment training for all of their employees. The State agencies will produce a model sexual harassment prevention training program, and employers must utilize this model or establish their own training program that equals or exceeds the minimum standards provided by the model training program.
  • The New York State Human Rights Law now also protects “non-employees,” i.e. those who are on site providing services, such as contractors, subcontractors, consultants and security guards (who work for a security contractor)..An employer will be liable when the employer (or its agents and supervisors) knew or should have known that the non-employee was subjected to sexual harassment in the employer’s workplace, and the employer failed to take immediate and appropriate action.
  • Employers may not include a confidentiality or nondisclosure provision in any settlement of a claim involving sexual harassment, unless the complaining employee requests it, and he/she has 21 days to review such a provision; and he/she has 7 days after signing to revoke the agreement.
  • Employers may not enter into contracts that contain a provision requiring the mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment claims, unless a collective bargaining agreement requires it.

New York City Law

New York City’s Human Rights Law requires employers with 15 or more employees to conspicuously display an anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities poster designed by the City in common areas where employees gather. Employers at a minimum must display the poster in English and in Spanish. Furthermore, the City will develop an information sheet on sexual harassment that employers must distribute to employees at the time of hire.

Employers with 15 or more employees must conduct annual interactive anti-sexual harassment trainings for all employees, including supervisory and managerial employees, and such training is required for new hires.  Employers must keep a record of all trainings for three years, including a signed employee acknowledgment.  The City will develop an online training program that an employer may use, provided employees are informed of any internal complaint process available to them to address sexual harassment claims. This legislation will take effect on April 1, 2019.

The New York City law now applies to employers with four or more employees.  In addition, the City has amended to the law to extend the statues of limitations in regard to has been extended from one year to three years.

Important Reminder

Since 2016, the New York State Division of Human Rights regulations have protected transgender and gender-nonconforming people under the Human Rights Law.  Sex discrimination includes treating someone differently because of their gender identity, gender expresser or transgender status.  Sexual harassment includes harassment based upon a person’s gender identity or transgender status.

Relationship of State and City Laws

Please note that though the State and City laws overlap, there are differences.  The State and the City are each creating training programs, posters, etc., and for those buildings within the five boroughs, and this might be confusing.  Until these laws are amended to be totally harmonious, it may be necessary to comply with both.   Though this may mean two sets of notices, for example, New York City employers must to comply with both laws.  However only one training program should be necessary if carefully created to include all requirements.  All of the laws outlined above are all now all in effect except those specifically noted to become effective in 2019.  Every housing company (and employer) in New York should consult with their counsel to fully understand what is now required by law.

To view a PDF version of this memorandum, please click here.