The #MeToo movement has brought sexual harassment in the workplace to the forefront of New York lawmakers’ minds. In August, the governor added some new protections against workplace harassment. These protections are aimed at decreasing instances of discrimination, sexual harassment and assault within the workplace.
New York Senate Bill 6577 passed in June 2019 and went into law in August. Unlawful discriminatory practices replaced the narrow term sexual harassment in the bill. Employer contracts starting after January 2020 cannot enforce any employment provision that violates the new law. The employer needs to notify any potential or current employees that they can speak with law enforcement regarding harassment.
Employees in New York are already afforded protections against harassment on the basis of race and age. The new law goes further, providing protections against harassment based on disability, sex, gender identity or expression, marital status, sexual orientation, predisposing genetic characteristics, domestic violence victim status, military status, and familial status. Businesses need to provide training on sexual harassment in the language of preference for their employees in addition to English.
New York City Local Law 96 of 2018 requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide annual anti-sexual harassment training. This training provides a certification upon completion and lasts about 45 minutes.
All employees should receive a fact sheet and annual training, and have access to a poster in both Spanish and English. The training is available with closed captioning, audio descriptions and alt-text on icons and images. The city designed the training to be accessible to everyone.