Compliance – FAQ

 New York City Issues FAQs on Sexual Harassment Law 

OVERVIEW

The New York City (NYC) Commission on Human Rights (Commission) has issued answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the city’s new Stop Sexual Harassment in New York City Act (NYC-SSHA). 

Enacted in May 2018, the NYC-SSHA requires employers that have 15 or more employees in NYC to provide annual training on sexual harassment prevention. The law also requires all employers in NYC, regardless of size, to display posters and provide fact sheets to their employees. Similar requirements apply statewide under New York State’s 2019 budget law

While the NYC Commission’s FAQs address both of these new laws, their main focus is on the NYC-SSHA. This Compliance Bulletin provides selected portions of the FAQs. 

ACTION STEPS

All employers in NYC should review the FAQs and ensure compliance with the NYC-SSHA’s posting and notice requirements. Employers with 15 or more employees in NYC should monitor the NYC Commission’s website for its forthcoming model training program.   

Sexual Harassment Training

This section addresses requirements that apply only to employers with 15 or more employees in NYC. 

When is the training required?

Starting April 1, 2019, employers are required to train their employees annually. 

Who is required to provide the training to their employees? 

All employers with 15 or more employees in the previous calendar year must provide sexual harassment training to their staff. To determine whether an employer has 15 or more employees, employers must consider the number of employees they have employed at any point within the prior calendar year. 

Do employers have to train short-term employees, part-time employees or independent contractors?

Employers are required to train employees who work more than 80 hours in a calendar year and work for at least 90 days. If an employee has worked less than 90 days or less than 80 hours in a calendar year, they do not need to be trained.

An employer is required to train independent contractors who have performed work in the furtherance of the business for more than 90 days and more than 80 hours in a calendar year. Employers are not required to re-train independent contractors who have already received the mandated annual training elsewhere.

Do independent contractors count as employees for the purposes of calculating the 15-employee minimum that triggers an employer’s obligation to provide annual sexual harassment training? 

Yes, independent contractors—regardless of the number of days or hours they work—are considered employees for the purposes of determining whether an employer is obligated to provide the annual sexual harassment training. D

Will the Commission certify trainings by third parties?

No. Employers may develop their own training or hire an outside party to provide the training as long as it includes the required elements outlined in the NYC-SSHA. 

What documentation is an employer required to maintain regarding the training?

The NYC-SSHA requires employers to keep a record of all trainings, including a signed employee acknowledgement, for at least three years. These records must be made available for the NYC Commission’s inspection upon request. The signed acknowledgment may be electronic. 

Are employees required to be trained every calendar year or one year from their last training?

Employees must be trained every calendar year.   

Will the mandated NYC training meet the training requirements of the New York State law?

The NYC Commission is partnering with New York State agencies to ensure that employers in NYC may use its forthcoming model training program to comply with both the state and local requirements. 

Posting the Required Notice

This section addresses requirements that apply to all employers in NYC, regardless of size. 

Where should employers post the required notice?

Notices should be posted in conspicuous locations accessible to all employees such as breakrooms and other common areas. If a convenient physical location is not available—or if electronic posting is the most effective method of reaching employees—the notices may be posted on an electronic bulletin board that is easily accessible to all employees. For employers with multiple worksites, the notice must be posted at all sites. For employers with remote workers, the notice may be provided via email.  

Does the notice have to be posted in both English and Spanish?

Yes. Employers must post the required notice in both English and Spanish. The NYC Commission will also make the notice available in nine additional languages for an employer’s use. However, the notice must be posted in English and Spanish regardless of whether an employer chooses to use the notice in additional languages. 

Does the notice have to be posted in color?

No. Employers may post the required English and Spanish notice in black and white. 

Distributing the Required Fact Sheet

This section address requirements that apply to all employers in NYC, regardless of size.

Who must receive the fact sheet?

All new employees must receive the fact sheet at the time of hire. This may be on or about the employee’s first few days of work, but no later than the end of the employee’s first week of work. 

How should employers distribute the fact sheet?

Employers may include the fact sheet in an employee handbook or with any onboarding materials for new employees. Employers may distribute it by any print or electronic means that they ordinarily use to communicate with employees.

This Compliance Bulletin is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.