May 21, 2019

California and New York Sexual Harassment Training FAQs

In 2018, New York State and New York City passed new anti-harassment laws that require employers to conduct annual sexual harassment training for employees. These FAQs are intended to provide an overview of some of the most common questions about the new training requirements for NY employers. With the approaching deadline, steps should be taken now to ensure your organization meets the new sexual harassment training requirements, and provides an interactive, useful and relevant training experience for employees.

Q1. What is the deadline to train employees?
A.  NY State requires all NY employers to provide employees with sexual harassment training by October 9, 2019. Every employer in NY State is also required to adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy. 

As of April 1, New York City employers with 15 or more employees must also comply with the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act.  Under the NYC Act, all employees must be trained on sexual harassment prevention by December 31, 2019, and then on an annual basis. However, since NY State’s anti-harassment law applies to all employers in NY State —  including NYC — adhering to the October 9 deadline may simplify an organization’s training implementation and communication plan.

Q2. Which employees must be trained on sexual harassment prevention?
A. All employees must be trained, regardless of their immigration status. Employees include exempt and nonexempt employees, managers and supervisors, as well as part-time, temporary and seasonal workers. For NYC employers with 15 or more workers, the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act requires training for employees who work more than 80 hours in a calendar year and work for at least 90 days.

Q3. How often must I provide sexual harassment training to employees?
A. Employees must receive training on an annual basis. This may be based on the calendar year, the anniversary of each employee’s start date or another date the employer chooses.

Q4. How soon should new employees be trained?
A. Organizations are encouraged to train new employees as soon as possible after their start date, as employers may be liable for the actions of employees immediately upon hire.

Q5. Do I have to keep training records?
A. NY State encourages employers to keep copies of training records, as they may be helpful in addressing any future complaints or lawsuits. Employers are also encouraged to keep a signed acknowledgment that employees have read the organization’s anti-harassment policy. NYC’s law is more specific. It requires employers to keep training records for at least three years, and make them available for inspection by the NYC Commission on Human Rights upon request. Records can be a certificate or a signed employee acknowledgment and may be paper or electronic.

Q6. NY State says the training must be interactive, requiring some level of employee participation and may be web-based. What does this mean?
A. 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.

Q7. What does the training need to cover?
A. Training must include an explanation of sexual harassment that is consistent with guidance issued by the NY Department of Labor and Division of Human Rights, along with examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment. The training must also provide information about federal and state laws concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to targets of sexual harassment, as well as employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints, and the responsibilities of supervisors and managers in preventing and responding to misconduct. In addition, NYC’s guidelines require that the training include material about bystander intervention and retaliation, among other topics.

Bonus Question

Q8. Can I get sexual harassment training tailored to my industry?
A. Yes, Traliant’s award-winning Preventing Discrimination and Harassment training course covers all the training requirements for NY State and NYC, and is available in versions for offices, restaurants, hotels, healthcare, and manufacturing/industrial organizations. The training can be customized with your organization’s logo, policies and video message from your CEO. In addition, Traliant’s LMS makes it easy to track training activities and manage deadlines, with reminder messages, dashboards and audit-ready reporting. After employees complete the course, a certificate of completion is automatically emailed to you and your employees.