While you were ringing in the New Year, New York City was busy preparing to enforce their newly expanded and broadened NYC harassment laws. What's that you say? Didn't know there were new or expanded laws on harassment in New York City? What constitutes harassment in the Big Apple has changed a bit. Also, who is included in your liability as a business owner has changed as well. You'd probably better brush up on what a harassment claim is, according to NYCHRL, if you have an office in New York City going forward. Not knowing may cost your business a whole lot of money as claiming ignorance is not a defense in court. And you thought the cost of parking in NYC was terrible!
Human Resources offices all over the country are getting themselves up to speed on a host of expanded HR and labor laws instituted by the states they do business in. What happens to the entrepreneur who is either doing HR him or herself or better yet, leaving it to a family member to manage? Since there is no latitude for ignorance, deciding you don't have time to keep up with HR law is what will cost you everything you've worked for. Do you have enough room in the budget to deal with NYC harassment laws? Most entrepreneurs don't.
It used to be harassment claims couldn't be made against a business by someone who was not officially employed by them. That has now changed in New York City as of this year. Interns, Contractors, Part-Time Employees, Consultants, and even Vendors are all welcome to file a harassment claim against your business as part of the newly expanded NYC harassment laws.
To be sure, plenty of people in these categories have been harassed by employees of companies they've done business with. Up until now, employers of unscrupulous employees who harass others who do business with their employers couldn't be held liable. If you didn't lay awake at night over the thought of sexual harassment claims at your workplace before, don't expect to get any sleep any time soon over the new NYC harassment laws.
The term, or what constitutes harassment, has changed and not in the employer's favor. Things deemed workplace harassment before needed to be proven to be severe. The term 'severe' has now been removed from the NYCHRL language to include more opportunities for litigation.
In the old days of 2019, to be held liable for a harassment claim, the plaintiff had to have followed their employer's grievance policies and allowed the employer to rectify the situation. Under the new NYC harassment laws, none of that has to take place for the employer to be held responsible. Your grievance policies are now null and void under NYCHRL.
The best way to avoid employer liability is to provide sexual harassment training to anyone who will be onsite in your workplace. This includes anyone, even if you are not paying them. Interns, consultants, and vendors who are in regular contact with your employees are strongly recommended to receive sexual harassment training by you, the employer.
You can find sexual harassment training online, provided by New York City, along with other types of information on fair labor laws in the city. Most SMBs don't have a robust formula for keeping up with HR law and ever-changing regulations on harassment and fair employment. Even if you are up to date on Federal and state law, cities can institute their policies as well, just like New York City did.
Employing people is a big responsibility. The more people you hire, the more risk you take on. Failing to protect yourself as an entrepreneur means your business can quickly shutter over a lawsuit. Don't leave your future to fate. The best thing you can do is let the professionals handle HR. Let it be their job to keep you up to date and protected.
PEOs offer HR compliance services, labor law compliance, and other types of HR services, including harassment training services as part of their offerings. PEOs share the burden of keeping your employees and your business protected when it comes to NYC harassment laws. If you'd like to find out more about how a PEO could help you with HR services, risk and safety, and benefits, contact us today to find out more.
If you’d like to find out more about how PEOs can help you provide great benefits and payroll management at less than you are paying now, contact us today for a free consultation.
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