Nancy Gunzenhauser Popper, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in SHRM, in “New York State Revises Sexual Harassment Prevention Guidance,” by Leah Shepherd.

Following is an excerpt:

New York state recently updated its sexual harassment prevention model policy and training requirements, which employers will need to incorporate into their handbooks and communication with employees.

The new guidance:

  • Notes that harassment does not need to be "severe or pervasive" to be illegal in New York.
  • Adds more examples of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation, including circumstances in which sexual harassment can occur while working remotely.
  • Adds a section on bystander intervention and provides tools and methods that can be used when an employee witnesses discrimination or harassment.
  • Adds language regarding gender diversity and gender-based harassment and discrimination, which can include gender stereotyping and treating employees differently because they identify as cisgender, transgender or nonbinary.
  • Provides emphasis and guidance on supervisors' and managers' responsibility to report harassment and discrimination.
  • Explains that harmless intent is not a defense for harassment and discrimination, and that the impact of the behavior on a person is what counts.
  • Adds information regarding the New York State Division of Human Rights' sexual harassment hotline.

New York's law is stricter than federal law, which holds that harassment must be severe or pervasive to be considered illegal. …

Anti-Harassment Training

New York State law requires that employers conduct anti-harassment training for all employees each year.

New York's minimum standards require that anti-harassment training be interactive and include examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment. New York employers must provide workers with a copy of the company's anti-harassment policy and a copy of the information presented at the training. …

Going forward, New York employers should review their anti-harassment policies, whether that is part of their employee handbook or part of a state supplement, and make sure the changes in the model policy are reflected, said Nancy Gunzenhauser Popper, an attorney with Epstein Becker Green in New York City.  

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