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The Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act: A Complete Breakdown Of What You Need To Know

The Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act came up as a response to the numerous allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct perpetrated by politicians, business executives, and entertainers. 

Many governments, including New York City state, are passing new, tougher laws and reemphasizing their sexual harassment policies to crack down on the practice. 

The Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act changes the city’s current Human Rights Law and the NYC Charter, which strengthens the requirements employers have to stop or prevent sexual harassment and inform employees of their rights if they believe sexual harassment is an issue.

Under the guidance of the new state budget, the employers will be required to develop a model for sexual harassment and distribute the policy to their employees in writing, emphasizing the city’s mandate to distribute anti-harassment material.

If you want to get your entire team compliant with this law before the deadline, try EasyLlama's sexual harassment training for New York employers. We can get your company tracked and certified in a heartbeat. Get in touch for a demo today.

What is the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act?

The New York City council passed the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act and Mayor Bill De Blasio signed it into law in May 2018. The new sexual harassment Act is a package of bills that are aimed at addressing and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. 

The expansion of the City Human Rights Law in cases of gender-based harassment to increase the statute of limitations from 1 year to 3 years and expand protections to all employees, regardless of the size of their employer, is also included in this package.

The act also addresses sexual harassment compliance training in the workplace. It works in conjunction with the New York State Budget Act of 2018 and calls for mandatory sexual harassment training in New York for all employees, including contractors and part-time employees. 

This Act provides stronger protections than any other local, state, or federal harassment of workers in New York City. The training requirements, when the act was first enacted, were among the most expansive in the whole country at a time when California’s AB1825 state legislature was considered the gold standard for sexual harassment training.

The Act also expands the NYCHRL definition of sexual harassment and highlights the specific responsibilities of supervisory and managerial employees, showing them the correct steps to take to appropriately address sexual harassment.

The anti-harassment training according to the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act

 New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, in April 2018, signed a law that mandated employers to train all employees starting October 9, 2018.  Effective April 2019, all employers are required to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to all their employees. The Act provides the following guidelines for anti-harassment training:

  • All public agencies must conduct anti-harassment training while only private enterprises with more than 15 employees, including interns, must comply with this provision.
  • Unless a new employee had received the training on what constitutes harassment in New York or sexual misconduct at their previous employer within one year, all new employees must receive anti-harassment training within 90 days of employment.
  • Employers must conduct anti-harassment training for all employees that work at least 80 hours per year. Supervisory and managerial employees should also receive additional training about their responsibility in dealing with sexual harassment complaints to prevent sexual harassment and retaliation.
An employee does not need to repeat the training if he/she has already received NYC-compliant training from:

  • The same employer in another jurisdiction as long as the training fulfills all the specific requirements of the Act.
  • Another employer in the same training cycle i.e. the same year.
The training provided for the employees need not be one-on-one with an in-person instructor but they need to be very interactive. As the  Act deems online anti-harassment training permissible, an employer should look into a good and flexible training solution.

Scope Of The New York City Anti-Sexual Harassment Training

The new Act provides guidelines and specific indications for the type of training and its scope. This Act provides that the anti-harassment training should:

  • Provide a definition and explanation of verbal, visual, and physical sexual harassment using examples
  • Educate on the behaviors that show what sexual harassment is using examples.
  • Inform and educate the employees to see sexual harassment as a form of discrimination in violation of local, federal, and state law and that it is the responsibility of the employer to address sexual harassment claims.
  • Educate and describe the employer’s internal complaint system to help employees understand how to bring forward complaints of sexual harassment.
  • Supervisors and managers must be trained on their specific responsibilities in the prevention of sexual harassment and retaliation, and how to appropriately handle and address sexual harassment complaints to help in prevention.
  • Explain and Include the complaint processes available through the New York State Division of Human Rights, NYC Commission on Human Rights, and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and their relevant contact info.
  • Provide information concerning bystander intervention including resources on how the employees can engage in bystander intervention.

Businesses need to meet the requirements before the New York State harassment training deadline.

NYC Act: Prohibition of retaliation

The NYC Human Rights Law prohibits employers from retaliating or discriminating “in any manner against any person” because that person opposed an unlawful discriminatory practice or spoke out against sexual harassment in the workplace. It also protects individuals that bring forth sexual harassment claims against retaliation.

The form of unlawful discrimination under local, state, and federal law includes direct actions such as termination or demotion and more subtle such as transfers to less desirable work locations and increased workload are all manifestations of retaliation.  

The role of employers in creating and conducting sexual harassment training

It is the employer’s responsibility to provide an anti-harassment training solution that effectively engages the employees, providing an enriching experience and that is also legally compliant. They also need to get an online training program that can be constantly updated to be in compliance with the state laws. Other roles for the employers include:

  1. The employers have the option of creating their own anti-harassment training or using the online modules created by the New York City Commission on Human Rights that are publicly available
  2. If the employers opt for the publicly available modules, they should supplement the training with information about its own internal complaint process available to employees.
  3. The employer should be in possession of the records of all training including a signed employee acknowledgment attesting that they have completed the training and retain them for at least three years and upon request, avail them to the commission.
  4. Employers should post anti-harassment rights and responsibilities designed by the commission in areas where the employees can easily see them.
  5. Employers must provide information sheets, created by the commission, to all new employees. The employer must also provide anti-harassment training within 90 days of hiring or 300 hours in a calendar year
  6. All employers that contract New York City must file their practices, procedures, and policies to address and prevent workplace sexual harassment.

EasyLlama has developed online training modules that meet and exceed all statutory compliance mandates, expanding its educational reach beyond the strict law requirements.

 EasyLlama is perfectly positioned to provide New York employers with a training platform that is interactive, expansive, and comprehensive enough in respect to the new mandates enforced in New York City.

Ending Workplace Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment prevention is the responsibility of the employer and he/ she is tasked with providing sexual harassment prevention training to all employees. This training will help create a good work environment for everyone and the supervisors, and managers will have a good grasp on how to address sexual harassment claims.

With New York City and New York State strengthening their anti-harassment laws to mandate for all employees, including managers and supervisors, to prevent harassment in the workplace, it stands to reason that other states and municipalities will follow suit. 

As such, New York City and New York State employers need to review their existing sexual harassment policies to ensure that they meet the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act’s requirements, as they are affected by the new law.