New York State passed a law in April requiring workplaces to up their game in preventing Sexual Harassment in the workplace. Even if you aren’t in New York, following in the wake of #MeToo almost 30 states were considering changing their laws around Sexual Harassment. Now is the time to pull out your policies and make sure you are compliant, not just for fear of legal ramifications, but because your employees are paying attention to the movement happening today.
New York State’s new law goes into effect on October 9, 2018 and it applies to all New York State employers (regardless of size and including those who employ domestic and household employees). The new law requires companies to have a written anti-sexual harassment policy covering, at a minimum, eight key points.
Now is the time to review your anti-sexual harassment policy to ensure it complies with these new requirements! If you don’t have a written policy it’s time to start drafting!
Under the new law your written policy must cover these points:
- You may feel like it is a given, but your policy must state your organization prohibits sexual harassment.
- The policy must give examples of prohibited conduct.
- It must include information concerning the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment under federal, state and local law.
- You must provide a standard complaint form.
- The policy must delineate a procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of all complaints and ensure due process for all parties.
- You must inform employees of their rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially.
- The policy must state that sexual harassment is a form of employee misconduct and indicate sanctions will be enforced against individuals engaging in it and against supervisors knowingly allowing it to continue.
- You must clearly state retaliation is against the law and those who complain of sexual harassment or those who participate in a proceeding will be protected.
Feeling overwhelmed? New York State will be putting out a Model Policy prior to the October 9 deadline. But you don’t have to wait for this to start thinking about how policies might help your workplace. Heddy is currently developing a package with Eiss-Proctor Law to help small businesses meet all the requirements of the new law (including the required training!). Sign up here to be notified of the package when it’s released!
If you want a truly inclusive workplace you should think about how the anti-sexual harassment policy will work with other policies in your office. From an inclusion perspective, focusing solely on sexual harassment may send the wrong message – suggesting to employees you believe this is the only potential discrimination issue in the workplace.
The new law gives New York businesses an opportunity to re-think not just your Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy but all the ways you are preventing discrimination and encouraging inclusion in your office.