On January 12, 2023, the New York State Department of Labor (“DOL”) published a proposed updated Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy. The public comment period, which is intended for New Yorkers to share their feedback on the proposed policy, is set to close on February 11, 2023.
In 2018, in accordance with the New York Labor Law, the DOL was tasked with teaming up with the New York State Division of Human Rights to develop a Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy that complies with NYS law. The Labor Law further mandated that every employer implement a sexual harassment prevention policy that is equal to or exceeds the standards of the DOL Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy. As a result, since 2018, numerous employers throughout the state have adopted the DOL Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy as their own.
If adopted by the DOL in its current state, the updated Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy will compel employers to implement more robust sexual harassment prevention policies, extending protections for employees. Some of the most notable proposed revisions to the Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy include:
The addition of a section relating to bystander intervention, which outlines how an employee should react when they witness harassment in the workplace.
An added emphasis on gender-identity and gender diversity. The proposed Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy includes a lengthy discussion of the importance of understanding a person’s gender identity and highlights that gender-based discrimination is unlawful sexual harassment.
The addition of a clear statement that harassing behavior need not be severe or pervasive and that harassing behavior is any behavior that rises above petty slights or trivial inconveniences.
The inclusion of a statement indicating that the intent of the harasser is irrelevant and only the impact of the behavior on the person should be taken into consideration.
An updated and more detailed list of examples of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Expansion of the duties placed on supervisors, specifically, the proposed changes highlight that a supervisor should not be passive and wait for employees to make a claim of harassment, but rather they have a duty to act if they observe harassing behavior.
At the close of the comment period, the DOL will consider all public comments, make any changes to the proposed Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy it deems necessary, and will then publish a final version of the Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy. When the final version of the Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy is released, employers will be required to review and amend their own policies to ensure that they are in compliance with the standard set forth in the New York Labor Law.
Our firm has extensive experience counseling employers/businesses and others on statutory requirements, as well as preparing and implementing applicable policies. If you have any questions related to this Legal Briefing, please contact any member of our firm at 585-730- 4773.
This Legal Briefing is intended for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or counsel. The substance of this Legal Briefing is not intended to cover all legal issues or developments regarding the matter. Please consult with an attorney to ascertain how these new developments may relate to you or your business. © 2023 Law Offices of Pullano & Farrow PLLC