Update to Sexual Harassment Policy for NY Businesses

Jul 13, 2022

ALBANY, NY | Governor Hochul signed a package of legislation to address workplace harassment and discrimination (S. 812B/A. 2035B). As an employer, one of the best strategies for avoiding litigation is to have comprehensive policies and procedures in place. State and federal employment law changes so rapidly that it is imperative to develop written employment policies, procedures and practices and have them regularly reviewed for continued compliance. 

So, what are the next steps for your business to properly follow and best prepare your company to comply with Governor Hochul’s legislation?

There are two things that need to be added to the employee handbook or written notice of an employer’s anti-sexual harassment policy:

1.  Employers must inform their employees about a toll-free hotline run by the New York State Division of Human Rights for employees to call with workplace sexual harassment complaints. The information for the hotline must be posted on anything having to do with the employer’s anti-harassment policy, including the employee handbook, any workplace posters (posters are required to be hung around the office already, so these will need to be updated with the hotline info), and any other place an employee would look to find the anti-sexual harassment policy. This hotline will not be released or go into effect until July 14, 2022, so the policy and all related materials will need to be updated then.

2.  This second policy adds more protection for the anti-retaliation clause that is already required by the state: “The New York State Human Rights Law expressly prohibits all forms of retaliation, including the disclosure of an employee’s personnel files in retaliation for an employee’s participation in any activities protected under said law, like filing a complaint or testifying or assisting in any proceeding. The state attorney general is authorized to investigate and prosecute claims of retaliation. The disclosure of personnel files in the course of commencing or responding to a complaint made with the New York State Division of Human Rights, or a court proceeding, is still permitted.”

Contact one of our dedicated Business Attorneys today to review and update your policies, handbooks, and procedures to ensure your business conforms to regulation and follows the most current legislation.

Did you know?

New York State requires employers to provide each of their employees a copy of their anti-sexual harassment policy in writing. Learn more. 

The state has additional posting requirements for certain policies such as an Employer’s policy to prohibit retaliation against an employee. Such posting requirements may be affected by the new retaliation legislation released. Learn more.

Also, required with your sexual harassment policy: a complaint form. 

Learn more about TLF’s Business Law and Labor & Employment Law for Businesses. TLF has been ranked Tier 1 consecutively over the past 3 years in U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms.” Learn more about how TLF’s attorneys can represent your business. From complex litigation to routine advice on human resource matters, our attorneys are experienced in advising and representing employers and employees in a variety of work environments.

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