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The problem of sexual harassment at work continues to be part of our national conversation, and many employees have questions about their rights.

If you work in New York, it’s important to know that your employer must take certain steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. New York law now requires employers to have a sexual harassment prevention policy.

What the Policy Must Include

The law requires every employer in New York State to adopt a policy that meets or exceeds certain standards. Specifically, the policy must:

  • Prohibit sexual harassment by following guidance from the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights
  • Provide examples of illegal sexual harassment
  • Offer a complaint form
  • Outline a procedure for timely and confidential investigations that ensure due process for everyone
  • Include information about federal and state statutory provisions for sexual harassment, any possible remedies for victims and a statement that alerts employees of local laws that may also apply
  • Inform employees of their redress rights, as well as all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints
  • State clearly that sexual harassment is employee misconduct and that sanctions will be enforced against perpetrators and anyone in a management position who enables this behavior knowingly
  • State clearly that retaliation against employees who file a complaint or assist with any investigation is illegal

What can I do if I have been harassed?

The guidelines above should help make your workplace one that is safe and not hostile to employees. However, if your employer has not implemented a policy or is not enforcing it, or if your employer is the perpetrator, you can still file a complaint or pursue legal action.

New York City’s anti-sexual harassment laws are among the strongest in the world, and this new policy requirement on the state level only strengthens those laws. As an employee, you should know that you don’t have to endure sexual harassment at work. If you have been subjected to a hostile work environment, you have the right to pursue justice and due compensation.