Earlier this week, the New York Governor’s office finalized materials for New York State employers to implement sexual harassment policies and training.  While draft guidance was circulated to the public in August 2018, the finalized policies have some noticeable differences.  Of immediate interest is the extension that employers received to implement their first mandatory anti-harassment training from January 1, 2019 to October 9, 2019, giving employers who were scrambling to conduct a training 10 more months to do so.

Some other noteworthy differences include:

  • Modification of the definition of “sexual harassment” to prohibit harassment against individuals’ “self-identified or perceived sex, [or] gender expression”
  • Removal of language in the model policy language and the model training program that employers must have a “zero tolerance” policy toward harassment
  • Insertion of language that investigations should begin immediately and be kept “confidential to the extent possible”
  • Removal of language in the model training program that investigations should be concluded within 30 days, instead stating that the investigations should be completed “as soon as possible”

The State’s website contains a model sexual harassment policy, model training materials, a model complaint form, and frequently asked questions.

Employers do not have a duty to use the model policies and training, but must be sure that the training and policies are, at a minimum, compliant with the State’s materials.

Hogan Lovells’ employment attorneys have plenty of experience crafting policies and providing sexual harassment training in New York, and are available to help employers take the steps necessary to comply with New York’s new requirements.