Sexual Harassment in the Workplace – #MeToo

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Is Your Business Prepared for New York’s Response to #MeToo?

Many New York employers may be caught by surprise that with the state budget recently signed by Governor Cuomo on April 12, 2018, employers are now subject to a number of new requirements under the New York law related to sexual harassment. Rather than following the normal legislative path of a stand-alone bill, these sweeping policy changes were fast-tracked in the state’s 2018-2019 budget bill.

Here is what you need to know about the new law and when employers must be in compliance:

Now (as of 4/12/18): Non-employees Covered

  • Employer may be held liable for sexual harassment towards a non-employee who is a “contractor, subcontractor, vendor, consultant or other person providing services pursuant to a contract in the workplace”

7/11/18: Change to Settlement Agreement Non-Disclosure Provisions

  • Prohibits including in sexual harassment claim settlements any term or condition that would prevent the disclosure of information related to the claim unless confidentiality is the complainant’s preference

7/11/18: Change to Mandatory Arbitrary Provisions

  • Prohibits provisions of any contract to resolve any claim of sexual harassment through mandatory binding arbitration (stay tuned as this state law may ultimately be preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act)

10/9/18: Mandatory Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy

  • All New York employers must either adopt the model policy to be developed and published by the state or develop and distribute their own policy compliant with the model’s standards

10/9/18: Mandatory Annual Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

  • Employers must present the state-approved model (to be developed and published) or their own interactive training program compliant with the state standards on an annual basis

1/1/19: Requirements for Bids on State Contracts

  • Bids on certain state contracts must contain language affirming that the bidder implemented compliant policies and training

Close on the heels of New York State is also new legislation for New York City passed by city Council and expected to be signed soon into law by Mayor de Blasio. This new law will have similarities to what the New York State law requires, to include mandatory sexual harassment annual training, but with some differences:

  • Required poster and notice to employees to be implemented 120 days after becoming law
  • Starting 4/1/19 for employers with 15 or more employees, mandatory sexual harassment training to be conducted annually and within 90 days of new hire start; required content is more detailed than NYS requirement with emphasis on complaint procedures and bystander intervention
  • Expands coverage of gender-based harassment cases to include employers with fewer than four employees
  • Extends statute of limitations for filing gender-based harassment claims from one to three years after the alleged conduct


Do you have questions about the new Sexual Harassment Prevention legislation in New York State and New York City? Contact the office to speak with one of our HR Business Partners today.