Will The Department of Labor Show Up at Your Practice?
The Deadline for Updating Your Practice’s Sexual Harassment
Prevention Policy is Fast Approaching
By Andrew L. Zwerling
By now, most employers in New York State are aware of the recent legislative change imposing on all employers the obligation to conduct annual interactive sexual harassment training and to have a sexual harassment prevention policy in place. Surprisingly, however, while most employers have either commenced the requisite training that must be completed on or before January 1, 2019 or have scheduled such training, many are operating under a misimpression concerning the required sexual harassment prevention policy that will leave them non-compliant by the deadline of October 9, 2018 for such policies.
Specifically, many employers when queried about the required policy respond that they have an existing sexual harassment prevention policy and assume that such policy is sufficient to meet the statutory mandate. The reality, however, is that the recent New York State mandate requires that such policies contain additional criteria that most pre-existing policies did not possess. For example, such policies must now include a standard complaint form for use by employees who feel they have been victims of sexual harassment or by other employees who are reporting sexual harassment on behalf of other employees. Similarly, New York State requires that such policies fully inform employees of their rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially. While most pre-existing policies informed employees of the employer’s internal complaint mechanism, most did not inform them of the entities to which employees could make such complaints externally.
Fortunately, for those medical practices with existing sexual harassment prevention policies, the road to compliance requires relatively minor changes. That said, however, with the clock for compliance winding down, it is recommended that implementation of such changes be done as quickly as practicable.
Andrew L. Zwerling is a Partner-Director at Garfunkel Wild P.C. with over 35 years as a trial and appellate lawyer in State and Federal courts, including his successful argument before the United States Supreme Court, He specializes in employment law, and conducts internal investigations for clients relating to sexual harassment and other personnel issues. His direct line is 516-393-2581.