Employee Health and Wellness
May 25, 2023
On April 11, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the state released updates to its model sexual harassment prevention policy. Organizations operating in New York should review their sexual harassment prevention policies to ensure they are still in compliance.
New York’s revised model policy increases the emphasis on sexual harassment in the workplace, including treatment related to gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. It also addresses issues related to remote work environments, contains more detailed examples of retaliation, information on bystander intervention and references the New York State Division of Human Rights’ sexual harassment hotline.
Traliant is proactively updating its Preventing Discrimination and Harassment: New York Edition course to ensure the training aligns with the state’s policy changes. An updated version of the course will be available to customers in June 2023.
Key updates to the Model Policy
New York’s revised model policy includes several notable changes:
- Gender-based discrimination: Revisions include that harassment can based on gender expression, gender identity, the status of being transgender and gender role stereotyping. A new provision provides definitions of cisgender, transgender and non-binary.
- Remote employees: The revised policy confirms that sexual harassment, including displays, publications, gestures, noises, remarks, or jokes made over virtual platforms and in messaging apps when employees are working remotely, can create a hostile work environment.
- Severe or pervasive harassment: New York’s model policy now reads, “harassment does not need to be severe or pervasive to be illegal” and further explains that “every instance of harassment is unique to those experiencing it, and there is no single boundary between petty slights and harassing behavior.”
- Bystander intervention: The model policy contains a new section on bystander intervention, which suggests “five standard methods of bystander intervention that can be used when anyone witnesses harassment or discrimination and wants to help.”
- Examples of sexual harassment: Revisions include an updated, but not exhaustive, listing of sexual harassment and retaliation across various careers and industries.
- State harassment hotline: The model policy now includes a confidential New York State hotline as a resource for filing a workplace sexual harassment complaint.
What should employers do now?
Employers should review their current sexual harassment prevention policy to ensure compliance and make any necessary changes. While employers do not need to use the exact updated version of New York’s model policy, they must make sure that their policy meets the minimum standards set forth by the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL).
One of the many benefits of partnering with Traliant is knowing it actively monitors changes to regulations and updates training content in real time, so organizations can always be confident they are compliant with federal, state and city regulations.