Key Notes:

The Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act:

  • Amends existing local gender-based harassment law to apply to small employers and provides employees alleging gender-based harassment three years to file a complaint.
  • Requires all employers to inform employees of certain rights via posters and information sheets.
  • Mandates that certain employers provide employees and management with interactive anti-sexual harassment training.

On May 9, 2018, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act (Act). Effective immediately, the Act amends the New York City Human Rights Law (Law) to apply to more employers and provide employees alleging gender-based harassment with additional time to file a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights (Commission). While the Act’s various provisions take effect at different times over the course of the year, employers should now consider reviewing their policies and remain alert for additional guidance concerning the new training, posting and hiring requirements.

Before the Act was signed, the existing Law prohibited gender-based harassment and established the Commission to enforce the Law, but it did not apply to small employers with fewer than four employees. The Act amends the Law to apply to all New York City employers, including those employing fewer than four individuals. As such, small employers should take steps to ensure compliance by familiarizing themselves with the Law; updating their policies; and adopting best practices to prevent, identify and address claims of gender-based harassment.

In addition to applying the Law to more employers, the Act also extends the time for employees alleging gender-based harassment to file a claim. Prior to the Act, the Commission only had the authority to address complaints filed within one year of the alleged act of harassment. The Act amends the Law, now giving employees three years to file a claim of gender-based harassment.

Effective September 6, 2018, the Act requires employers to conspicuously display in the workplace an anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities poster currently being developed by the Commission. In addition, at the time a new employee is hired, employers will be required to furnish a copy of an information sheet the Commission is also creating. Employers should monitor developments related to these requirements to ensure their compliance as the materials become available.

Effective April 1, 2019, the Act will require most employers with 15 or more employees to provide training for all New York City employees, supervisors and managers. Employers with 15 or more employees must provide all individuals employed in New York City for at least 80 hours in a calendar year with interactive anti-sexual harassment training that must:

  • Explain that sexual harassment constitutes discrimination under local, state and federal law;
  • Provide a description, with examples, of what conduct does and does not constitute sexual harassment;
  • Educate employees about their employer’s internal complaint policies and procedures, as well as the complaint process available to them through the Commission, the New York City Division of Human Rights, and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission;
  • Notify employees that local law prohibits retaliation; and
  • Stress the importance of bystander intervention.

Employers subject to the Act are also required to provide their supervisors and managers in New York City with additional anti-sexual harassment training concerning their managerial responsibilities to prevent and address sexual harassment and retaliation. The Act also requires employers to maintain training records for three years and make those records available to the Commission upon request. The Commission is in the process of developing online training modules that satisfy the Act’s training requirements. Employers should work to develop their own compliant training or watch for the training modules being prepared by the Commission.