New York State Updated Its Model Sexual Harassment Policy

The New York State Department of Labor (the “NYSDOL”) recently updated its Model Sexual Harassment Policy for all employers. The NYSDOL also released an updated model training slide presentation and training video. As a reminder, New York law requires all employers to maintain and distribute a sexual harassment prevention policy and conduct annual training. To comply with the policy requirement, employers may use the NYSDOL model policy or one that exceeds the model’s “minimum standards.” For multiple reasons, we find employers are better served customizing their own training and policies as opposed to merely adopting the NYS templates. While the “minimum standards” on the NYSDOL website have not been amended, the model policy expressly states that although employers are encouraged to tailor it to meet their needs, “as the minimum standard, no section of this policy should be omitted.” Likewise, the model sexual harassment training states that it can be adapted, but also provides “the minimum standard and no section should be omitted.” The model policy, training and other related information can be found here.

Accordingly, employers in New York should review and update their sexual harassment prevention policies and training materials.

Some of the most significant changes to the model policy (compared to the first model policy issued in 2018) include: an emphasis on gender identity and understanding gender diversity, a statement that unlawful harassment need only rise above petty slights or trivial inconveniences, a new bystander intervention section, and a clarification that sexual harassment can occur in remote settings, such as via virtual meeting platforms and messaging apps, and in people’s homes (e.g., sexually explicit material in an employee’s background during a virtual meeting).

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Employment Notes, a newsletter produced by Tannenbaum Helpern Syracuse & Hirschtritt LLP’s Employment Law practice, provides insights on recent employment caselaw, legislation and other legal developments impacting employer policies, human resource strategies and related best practices. To subscribe to the newsletter, email

05.10.2023  |  PUBLICATION: Employment Notes  |  TOPICS: Employment

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