On April 11, 2023, the New York State Department of Labor (NYDOL) released updated versions of its sexual harassment model policy and training materials. These changes arise from 2018 amendments to the New York State Labor Law, which require employers to adopt written sexual harassment prevention policies that meet or exceed the model policy’s requirements. As part of this legislation, the State must review and revise the State’s model policy every four years, which led to the recent updates.
Overall, the new model policy is much longer than the original model policy the State implemented in 2018. Some of the important changes to the model policy include:
Clarifying that sexual harassment does not need to be severe or pervasive to be illegal in New York and explaining the broadened standard of harassment, which became law in 2019.
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).
Adding provisions making clear that harassing behavior can happen in the remote workplace.
Adding a section on bystander intervention with methods employees can use when witnessing discrimination or harassment in the workplace.
A provision in the section on “Supervisory Responsibilities” and in the section on “Complaints and Investigations” informing supervisors and managers that they should be mindful of the impact investigations into sexual harassment can have on victims, and to handle matters with sensitivity.
Adding a list of examples of sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation in a variety of workplace scenarios.
Making reference to the state’s confidential hotline for complaints of workplace sexual harassment which was launched July 2022.
Clarifying that intent is not a defense to harassment and discrimination and that it is the impact of the behavior on a person that counts.
The NYDOL also updated its training materials on preventing sexual harassment and discrimination. The revisions reflect those made in the model policy, including new content regarding definitions of gender identity, detailing the methods of bystander intervention, and updating case studies for discussion. The NYDOL’s website features a new training video and additional resources to help employers comply with the updated model policy.
Contact PMP if you have any questions regarding these new policy changes or to schedule harassment prevention training.