The legal landscape for employers – particularly those in New York – has evolved significantly over the last few months. On April 12, 2018, Governor Cuomo signed the FY 2019 Budget Bill, which includes significant measures targeting sexual harassment in the workplace, such as harassment prevention policy and training requirements. Not to be outdone, on May 9, 2018, Mayor de Blasio signed the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act, a collection of bills that require anti-harassment training and increase worker protections against sexual harassment.
Although sexual harassment has been in the spotlight, employment laws are changing on other fronts as well. NYC recently amended its paid sick leave law to include “safe time,” and it adopted a new “cooperative dialogue” requirement for employers handling reasonable accommodations under the NYC Human Rights Law.
Keeping track of the new legislation, and when each provision goes into effect, can be challenging. Stay ahead of the curve with our compliance timeline:
June 4, 2018: Notice of Rights under NYC Paid Safe and Sick Time Act
- Safe Time Amendments to NYC Paid Sick Leave: Effective May 5, 2018, NYC employers must allow their employees to use paid sick time under NYC law for specific “safe time” reasons when the employee or a family member has been the victim of any act or threat of domestic violence, unwanted physical contact, stalking or human trafficking. Employers should update their policies to meet or exceed the requirements under the law.
- Notice Requirement: Employers must distribute a Notice of Employee Rights to all current employees by June 4, 2018, and to all new employees going forward. Keep records of compliance for at least three years.
July 11, 2018: NYS Prohibition on Use of NDAs and Arbitration Agreements
- Effective July 11, 2018, NYS law will prohibit the use of non-disclosure provisions in settlement agreements related to claims of sexual harassment. Any term or condition that would prevent the disclosure of the underlying facts and circumstances of the claim will be prohibited, unless confidentiality is the complainant’s preference. The complainant’s preference must be memorialized in writing and signed by all parties after the complainant has had 21 days to consider the provision. The complainant then has 7 days to revoke the agreement, before it becomes effective.
- Also effective July 11, 2018, NYS law will prohibit mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment claims, except where inconsistent with federal law. The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) will likely preempt this portion of the state law in most circumstances, meaning that the practical impact is minimal.
- Employers should consider these changes when resolving sexual harassment claims going forward and ensure any confidentiality provisions comply with the new law.
September 6, 2018: NYC Sexual Harassment Posting Requirement
- Effective September 6, 2018, NYC employers will need to display a new anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities poster and distribute an information sheet on sexual harassment to new hires, provided the NYC Commission has published the materials by that date. Stay tuned for updates.
October 9, 2018: Implement NYS Harassment Prevention Policy
- Effective October 9, 2018, NYS law will require employers to adopt a sexual harassment policy that meets or exceeds the minimum standards established in a model policy that will be developed by the state.
- The law identifies specific categories of information that must be covered by the forthcoming model policy, but the state’s expectations for certain elements, such as the “standard complaint form,” are not entirely clear yet. Stay tuned for updates as more information becomes available.
October 15, 2018: NYC “Cooperative Dialogue” for Reasonable Accommodations
- Effective October 15, 2018, NYC employers must engage in a “cooperative dialogue” with employees who need or request reasonable accommodations for religion, disability, pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition, or for needs as a victim of domestic violence, sex offenses or stalking.
- The cooperative dialogue must include the employee’s accommodation needs, potential accommodations and alternatives, and any difficulties that potential accommodations may pose for the employer. Employers also must state their final determination on the accommodation in writing.
- Employers should train managers and HR professionals on the new requirements and review and update accommodation policies accordingly.
October 9, 2018/April 1, 2019: Mandatory Annual Sexual Harassment Training Requirement
- As we previously reported, NYS and NYC will both require most private employers to provide annual, interactive sexual harassment training for all employees. The state law goes into effect on October 9, 2018, and the city law goes into effect on April 1, 2019.
- For more information on the training requirements, see our post: Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training Comes to New York.
Please contact your Baker McKenzie employment lawyer with any questions about compliance with the new harassment prevention, sick time or reasonable accommodation requirements.