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What are the standards for sexual harassment prevention policies?

At your business, you are probably doing everything you can to comply with the law, and you probably want to make sure it is a safe and comfortable place for all your employees to work. One way to meet both those goals is to adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy that meets or exceeds New York law. The law was updated October 2018, so if your company already had a policy in place at that time, it is important to review your policy and create updates where needed.

A model policy is available for business owners to adopt, but to protect your business it is important to familiarize yourself with the policy standards, even if you plan to adopt the model. It is even more important to understand the requirements if you plan to write your own policy or are updating an existing policy.

Policy requirements at a glance

In general, sexual harassment prevention policies must make sure all employees understand what sexual harassment is and that it is not allowed. Examples are required to help employees understand all the different behaviors that are considered harassment.

The policy should also explain the federal and state remedies available to victims of sexual harassment, inform employees of their rights to seek those remedies, and describe the procedure for investigating complaints. It should also include a complaint form, along with a complete list of forums that can provide judgement on the complaints.

The policy must describe penalties the business will enforce against an employee who is found to have sexually harassed another or management who knew harassment occurred and did nothing. It should also state that retaliation against anyone for filing a sexual harassment complaint or for assisting in an investigation is illegal.

The cost of a sexual harassment complaint against your business can be expensive. This is why it is often best to take advantage of as many preventative measures as possible and exercise great care when drafting a sexual harassment policy.

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