As anticipated in the advisory we issued yesterday, New York state released finalized model sexual harassment prevention documents under New York Labor Law Section 201-g, which requires that all employers either (i) use the model forms, or (ii) establish a sexual harassment prevention policy and training program that meet the state’s minimum standards.

While employers are still required to implement a compliant sexual harassment prevention policy by October 9, 2018, the state extended the deadline for employers to conduct the required sexual harassment prevention training to October 9, 2019. Here are links to the finalized model documents:

These finalized documents differ from the proposed draft documents in several ways, including eliminating references to a “zero tolerance” harassment policy, encouraging employees to “document the incident” if they are unsure about pursuing a complaint at the time, explaining that sexual harassment can occur via email, text message, and social media, and clarifying that “interactive” training can be conducted electronically or over the phone so long as certain additional elements accompany the training.

The state also issued the following materials:

Perhaps most importantly, the final model documents continue to endorse the fact that, to meet the requirements of New York law, employers’ sexual harassment policies must contain several items not typically found in harassment policies, including:

  • Provisions protecting non-employees, such as applicants, interns, and contractors;
  • Defining sexual harassment to include harassment based on sexual orientation, self-identified or perceived sex, gender expression, gender identity, and transgender status;
  • A complaint form for the alleged victim to describe what happened and how it affects his/her work environment;
  • A detailed description of the investigation process; and
  • Information identifying other options and forums for reporting sexual harassment.

Accordingly, employers with employees in New York must act quickly to adopt the model policy or amend their policies to meet New York’s minimum standards for sexual harassment prevention policies on or before the compliance deadline of October 9, 2018.