On April 11, 2023, the New York State Department of Labor issued changes to New York State’s Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy.
The Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy updates the definition of sexual harassment to include harassment against different gender identities. The updated Model Policy introduces language of gender diversity, gender identity and expression, and the gender spectrum, which includes cis-gender, transgender, and non-binary.
The new Model Policy includes various examples of harassment that relate to gender identity and expression, such as intentional misuse of individual’s preferred pronouns, applying expectations on individuals based on their perceived gender identities, and name-calling, among others.
The updated model version addresses a new section on bystander intervention methods. The Model Policy provides five methods of proper intervention that both employers and employees can utilize when engaging in bystander intervention training.
Due to the change from a physical in-office environment to a digital and remote workplace, the updated policy states that harassment may occur in remote work environments as well. The Model Policy suggests that employer’s sexual harassment policy be provided to all employees digitally through email upon hiring, as well as be available on the employer’s shared network.
Employers are not mandated to adopt the revised Model Policy as-is as long as the employer’s meet or exceed New York State’s Minimum Standard Requirements for Sexual Harassment. However, employers are encouraged to review their sexual harassment policies and training with us to assess whether they need to update their policies and training materials.