New York Laws Against Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Woman sitting at desk with head in hands.The laws protecting employees against workplace sexual harassment are broad. In addition to Federal laws prohibiting workplace sexual harassment, New York laws against sexual harassment in the workplace also protect employees.

New York laws against sexual harassment at work come from both federal and state law.  In addition, New York City has its own sexual harassment laws that provide New York City workers with additional protection.  In general, these laws offer workers greater protection against sexual harassment in the workplace than federal law.

New York Sexual Harassment Laws

  • Throughout New York state, the laws prohibiting sexual harassment at work (the NYS and NYC Human Rights Laws) apply to all New York employers, not just those with 15 or more employees. Even if you are the only employee, you are protected under NY law.
  • New York law protects all workers – including independent contractors, interns, and volunteers – not just people who are officially classified as W-2 “employees.”
  • New York employers don’t just have to respond to sexual harassment; they must take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place. At minimum, employers must have a written policy on sexual harassment that informs employees about where to lodge an internal company complaint and how to complain and report the harassment.
  • New York employers must provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to all employees and supervisors, and employers are required to conduct sexual harassment training to all new employees as soon as possible after hire, or for New York City employers, after 90 days of initial hire for full-time and part-time employees.
  • Every employee in New York State must receive a sexual harassment prevention notice at the time of hiring (either prior to or at the beginning of their first day of work) and during their annual sexual harassment training. This notice must contain:

(a)  The employer’s sexual harassment policy; and

(b)  The information presented at the sexual harassment prevention training.

  • Additionally, all employers in New York City must “conspicuously display” an anti- sexual harassment rights and responsibilities poster “in employee breakrooms or other common areas [where] employees gather.” New York City employers must post the required notice in both English and Spanish.

What Are My Rights Regarding Sexual Harassment in New York?

In New York, employees have the right to:

  • Work in a safe environment free from sexual harassment and free from all forms of workplace sex discrimination.  Your employer is required by law to provide a safe working environment that is not “severely hostile” to you based on your sex or gender identity.
  • Be advised about your company’s sexual harassment policies, including how to report sexual harassment, and it must be presented in language that employees can understand.
    • In New York, your employer must have a written policy on sexual harassment and must make sure that every employee knows the policy exists and receives a copy of the policy.
  • Talk about or speak out against sexual harassment, whether it’s happening to you or to someone else at work. You can talk about sexual harassment or discrimination that’s happening at work to any other person, including your coworkers or your manager. You also have the right to inform your employer that you believe a company practice perpetuates harassment, or that a manager is engaging in harassment or discrimination. It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you (punish) for reporting or opposing sexual harassment or any gender discrimination.
  • Report the harassment to HR or to your manager, and consider taking additional actions.

For more information on what steps to take and what actions to consider, please see What Should I do if I’m Being Sexually Harassed at Work?