One year after #MeToo, more states are enacting stronger anti-harassment laws that come with sexual harassment training requirements. New York State and New York City are at the forefront. For employers in New York City with 15 or more employees, April 1, 2019 starts the countdown to begin training all employees on sexual harassment prevention. Under the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act, all employees must complete the training by April 1, 2020 and then be trained annually. Employees include part-time workers and independent contractors, who work more than 80 hours in a calendar year and work for at least 90 days.
The training requirements are mandated under the NYC Human Rights law, which protects all individuals against discrimination based on gender, including sexual harassment in the workplace, in housing and in public accommodations, such as stores and restaurants. Violators of the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act can receive fines of up to $250,000. The Commission can also award emotional distress damages and other remedies to the victim, and require the violator to undergo training and community service.
NYC employers must meet both NYC and NY State requirements
NYC-based employers must also comply with New York State’s new anti-harassment laws and training requirements, which have some different provisions covered in the checklist below. Traliant’s New York Edition of Preventing Discrimination and Harassment course meets the new training requirements for both NY State and NYC.
Here’s what you need to know:
Sexual harassment training for NYC employees should include:
- An explanation of sexual harassment as a form of unlawful discrimination under the NYC Human Rights law.
- A statement that sexual harassment is also a form of unlawful discrimination under state and federal law.
- A description of what sexual harassment is, with examples of behavior that constitutes sexual harassment.
- Information about bystander intervention and any resources that explain how to engage in bystander intervention.
- Information about the internal complaint process available to address sexual harassment claims.
- An explanation of the complaint process available through the NYC Commission on Human Rights, the NY State Division of Human Rights and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and contact information for these agencies.
- An explanation and examples of retaliation and why it’s prohibited under the law.
- Specific responsibilities of supervisors and managers to prevent sexual harassment and retaliation, and measures they may take to appropriately address sexual harassment complaints.
- In addition, NYC Local Law 96 requires a signed employee acknowledgment form confirming that each employee completed the training. Employers must keep a record of all trainings and acknowledgment forms for three years. The signed acknowledgment form may be electronic.
NY State requires all employers to conduct sexual harassment training for all employees by October 9, 2019 and then annually. The training should:
- Be interactive, requiring some level of employee participation and may be web-based.
What qualifies as interactive? For online training, asking questions at the end of a section that requires employees to select the right answer or offering an option for employees to submit a question online would be considered “interactive.”
For in-person training, interactivity could be having the presenter ask questions or allowing employees to ask questions throughout the presentation. A feedback survey for employees to submit after completing the training would also qualify as interactive for either web-based or in-person training. However, training in which an individual only watches a training video or reads a document, with no feedback mechanism or interaction, is not considered interactive.
- Include an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the NY Department of Labor and Division of Human Rights.
- Provide examples of unlawful sexual harassment.
- Include information on state and federal laws concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment.
- Include information addressing conduct by supervisors and the additional responsibilities of managers and supervisors.
- Include information about employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints.
It is also recommended that the training be:
- Web-based, and include asking employees questions as part of the program.
- Accommodate questions asked by employees.
- Solicit feedback from employees about the training and the materials presented.
Employers in NYC and NY State should have plans underway to train all employees annually on sexual harassment prevention, as required under new city and state anti-harassment laws. For NYC organizations with 15 or more employees, April 1, 2019 marks the countdown to start training under the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act. All NYC employees – including part-time and independent contractors – must complete the training by April 1, 2020.