Compliance Blog

Welcome to Traliant’s Compliance Blog.  We bring together compliance experts and eLearning veterans who have seen it all — the good, the bad and, especially, the ugly. From working with HR professionals across many industries, we understand that you all face similar challenges.

This blog features articles on the latest court rulings and laws as they relate to workplace ethics and compliance.  We also share our observations and learnings from the organizations and professionals with whom we are honored to work with.  We are confident you will find value in our topics and articles and encourage you to join the conversation.

New York Lowers Legal Barriers for Proving Sexual Harassment

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New York Sexual Harassment Laws

New York employers should be aware of a significant change in the legal standard for proving  sexual harassment in the workplace. A new bill, which amends the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), increases protections for employees who have been sexually harassed. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the new legislation on August 12, 2019. Read On

Discrimination Based on Hairstyle Now Illegal in New York and California

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Hair Discrimination Racial Discrimination Training

Generally, employers are free to establish dress codes or grooming policies for their employees, provided they make reasonable accommodations for employees’ disabilities or religious beliefs. Schools have similar rights to create dress codes to prevent disruptions to their educational mission. However, such dress codes or grooming policies may not be racially discriminatory, a definition that now extends to natural hairstyles in California and New York. 

On July 3, 2019, California expanded its definition of race-based discrimination to include discrimination based on ethnic hairstyles. New York’s Governor Cuomo signed a similar bill into law shortly thereafter on August 12, 2019. These state laws are the first in the nation to ban race-based hair discrimination, with the goal of preventing employees from being marginalized and discriminated against simply because of their hair. New York City took the lead in this issue in February, 2019, when the NYC Human Rights Commission released legal enforcement guidance on the rights of New Yorkers to maintain natural hair or hairstyles that are “closely associated with their racial, ethnic, or cultural identities.” 

NY State’s amendment of the Human Rights Law and Dignity for All Students Act and California’s enactment of the Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act both amend the legal definition of race to include traits historically associated with race, such as hair texture and “protective hairstyles,” such as braids, dreadlocks or twists.  

As a result, New York and California employers and schools — K-12 public schools and universities in New York and K-12 public schools in California — are now prohibited from enforcing grooming policies that discriminate based on hairstyles.  

Section 1 of California’s law points out “[i]n a society in which hair has historically been one of many determining factors of a person’s race, and whether they were a second class citizen, hair today remains a proxy for race. Therefore, hair discrimination targeting hairstyles associated with race is racial discrimination.” 

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The issue of discriminatory practices based on hair gained national attention in late 2018 when a referee of a wrestling match ordered a New Jersey high school student to cut his hair — which he wore in dreadlocks — based on the allegation that his hairstyle was not in compliance with league regulations. The incident sparked a national debate about the perception of African American hair and how it is judged, spurring New Jersey to introduce legislation based on California’s law that would make it the third state to ban hair discrimination.

Traliant Insight

Race-based hair discrimination is now banned in New York and soon in California, on January 1, 2020. Employers in these states can no longer enforce workplace dress code and grooming policies that prohibit natural hair styles. In addition, they cannot justify firing or passing over a job applicant based on criticism of their hair texture or style, nor can they cite “neatness” or “professionalism” as the premise for doing so. Employers should review and revise their dress and grooming policies, as well as their anti-discrimination and diversity and inclusion policies and training to reflect the new changes. All employees, including hiring managers and others involved in the recruiting, interviewing and hiring process, should understand their responsibilities to refrain from using hair or other physical and/or protected categories as a proxy for race or other discrimination.

Restaurants Should Keep Preventing Sexual Harassment on the Menu

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sexual harassment training for restaurants

The number of EEOC settlements and lawsuits involving restaurants so far in fiscal year 2019 spotlights the importance of restaurant businesses taking proactive steps to prevent sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation. 

The pervasive problem of workplace harassment affects all types of restaurants, from quick service to fine dining. Here are some recent examples of EEOC cases:  Read On

Six Things To Know About Connecticut’s Sexual Harassment Training Requirements

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The impact of #MeToo continues to reverberate across industries and state legislatures. On June 18, Connecticut became the latest state to enact stronger workplace harassment laws and new sexual harassment training requirements. Known as the Time’s Up Act, the new legislation affects all Connecticut employers and applies to both employees and supervisors — a big change from the previous law.

Here are 6 things HR professionals and their organizations should know about Connecticut’s new sexual harassment training requirements: Read On

4 Reasons Diversity Training Is Important in Preventing Workplace Harassment

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In today’s multigenerational, multicultural workplace, promoting diversity and inclusion (D&I) contributes to an organization’s success and helps foster a more respectful, harassment-free culture. The concepts of D&I are closely linked, however, they aren’t the same and the difference is important. Diversity training can help employees gain a deeper understanding of the benefits of both diversity and inclusive-thinking and how to apply D&I principles in their interactions with co-workers, customers, colleagues and business partners.  

 SHRM defines diversity as “the collective mixture of differences and similarities that includes, for example, individual and organizational characteristics, values, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, preferences, and behaviors.” Inclusion is “the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.”  There’s also the bumper sticker version: “Diversity is being invited to the party, while inclusion is being asked to dance.”   Read On