The State of New York has recently developed and proposed changes to their Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy due to feedback from workers, employers and the public, according to the governing website. According to the National Law Review, key proposed revisions include:
Adding a provision clearly explaining that, in New York State, sexual harassment does not need to be severe or pervasive to be illegal.
Defining sexual harassment as a form of “gender-based” discrimination, and providing an explanation of gender diversity (including definitions of cisgender, transgender and non-binary persons).
Including a provision explaining that intent is irrelevant under the law, and referring to the New York State Human Rights Law in explaining that whether harassing conduct is considered “petty” or “trivial” is from the perspective of a “reasonable victim of discrimination with the same protected characteristics.”
Adding provisions making clear that harassing behavior can happen in the remote workplace.
Providing an updated, non-exhaustive list of examples of sexual harassment and retaliation across many kinds of careers and industries.
Including a provision in the section on Supervisory Responsibilities telling supervisors and managers to be mindful of the impact investigations into sexual harassment can have on victims, and stating that management must “accommodate the needs of individuals who have experienced harassment to ensure the workplace is safe, supportive and free from retaliation for them during and after any investigation.”
Adding a new section on bystander intervention, including an explanation of five standard methods of intervention that can be used if employees witness harassment or discrimination.
In the section on Legal Protections and External Remedies, making reference to the state’s confidential hotline for complaints of workplace sexual harassment which, as we previously reported, launched in July 2022.
In a new Conclusion section, clarifying that while the focus of the policy is on sexual harassment and gender discrimination, the New York State Human Rights Law protects against discrimination in other protected classes and the policy “should be considered applicable to all protected classes.”
The proposal is subject to final feedback during a 30-day comment period that ends on February 11, 2023. Interested parties are encouraged to provide feedback to the Department of Labor.
As we know, the New York Labor Law already requires employers of all sizes to adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy, in addition to providing annual sexual harassment prevention training that meets or exceeds the state requirements.
- Sexual harassment and discrimination are against the law. After reading this policy, employees will understand their right to a workplace free from harassment.
- Employees will also learn what harassment and discrimination look like, what actions they can take to prevent and report harassment, and how they are protected from retaliation after taking action.
- The policy will also explain the investigation process into any claims of harassment.
- Employees are encouraged to report sexual harassment or discrimination by filing a complaint internally with [Employer Name].
- Employees can also file a complaint with a government agency or in court under federal, state, or local antidiscrimination laws.
According to the State of New York, the proposed policy outlined is aimed at providing employees an understanding of their right to a discrimination and harassment free workplace. “All employees should feel safe at work.”