In an effort to curb sexual harassment in the workplace, on April 12, 2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the New York state budget bill for fiscal year 2019, which contains new obligations for private and public employers. For example, as of July 11, 2018, the new legislation amends New York’s Civil Practice Law and Rules to ban contractual provisions that mandate arbitration for any allegations or claims of sexual harassment, except where such ban is inconsistent with federal law. Any such provision included in a contract will be null and void, but will not impact the enforceability of any other provision in the contract.
Also, effective October 8, 2018, the bill amends the New York Labor Law to require all employers to adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy to be distributed in writing to employees, and to conduct annual sexual harassment prevention training. The policy and training requirements are very specific. If an employer’s harassment policy and training does not meet the minimum requirements, the employer will be held non-compliant and face stiff penalties.
Employers should review their current sexual harassment policies, training procedures, and any existing arbitration agreements to ensure compliance with the new law.
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