A workplace that permits sexual harassment to occur presents a danger to employees. Sexual harassment can lead to emotional trauma or even escalate into physical assault. So, per state law, all New York employers must implement a sexual harassment prevention policy and training that satisfies certain state requirements.
New York’s model sexual harassment policy
First, the policy should prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace with an explanation of local, state and federal law. The policy should present workers with scenarios that illustrate what is unlawful sexual harassment.
The policy should educate workers of their right to address incidents of sexual harassment internally, administratively and in court. It should also provide workers with a complaint form to utilize if they are sexually harassed.
The policy should include an internal investigation process that addresses sexual harassment in a prompt manner that provides for anonymity. Any internal investigations must meet due process requirements for all involved.
The policy must explicitly state that sexual harassment in the workplace is an act of misconduct and that those who commit sexual harassment will be penalized, as will any superiors who knowingly permit sexual harassment in the workplace.
The policy also must explicitly state that it is against the law for an employer to retaliate against a worker who asserts their rights against sexual harassment or participates in a sexual harassment investigation or proceeding.
Sexual harassment training
It is also mandatory under state law for employers to provide workers with sexual harassment training. The training must be interactive and include examples of scenarios that would be considered sexual harassment.
The training must explain what constitutes sexual harassment as well as provide an explanation of local, state and federal sexual harassment laws. It must explain a supervisor’s responsibilities when sexual harassment occurs in the workplace. The training must explain what workers can do if they have been sexually harassed.
Employers are free to create their own policies and training on sexual harassment that meet state requirements. Alternatively, the state provides model sexual harassment policies and training employers may use. No matter what option an employer chooses, what is important is that there is the education and protocol in place that helps prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.