Employee Health and Wellness
May 17, 2019
The summer is shaping up to be an active one for HR and training professionals who are responsible for implementing their organization’s sexual harassment training program. With new anti-harassment laws in New York and California, and the EEOC and #MeToo movement continuing to amplify the importance of preventing workplace harassment, here are a few things to put on your summer to-do list and keep on your radar:
Train summer interns on sexual harassment prevention
Regardless of state or local laws, it’s a good idea to provide sexual harassment prevention training to summer interns, who may not know what is considered appropriate and inappropriate behavior in the workplace. It’s also a good idea to make interns aware of your organization’s dating policy.
New York’s sexual harassment training deadline is October 9, 2019
New York State’s new anti-sexual harassment law requires employers to provide sexual harassment training to all employees and supervisors by October 9, 2019 − including part-time, seasonal and temporary workers, regardless of their immigration status.
Similarly, under the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act, New York City employers with 15 or more employees are required to train individuals who work more than 80 hours in a calendar year and work for at least 90 days. This includes interns and other short-term or part-time employees. Importantly, regardless of the number of employees, New York’s Human Rights Law requires ALL employers in New York State to provide a workplace free from sexual harassment.
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California’s training deadline is January 1, 2021
Under California’s new anti-harassment law (SB 1343), employers with five or more employees have until January 1, 2021 to train all employees – not just supervisors – on sexual harassment prevention. And beginning January 1, 2020, temporary and seasonal employees, or any employee hired to work for less than six months, must be trained within 30 calendar days after their hire date or within 100 hours worked, whichever comes first.
Illinois and NJ propose harassment training for restaurants
Preventing workplace sexual harassment and creating a safe, respectful culture poses challenges for any organization – especially so for those in the restaurant industry. This year, legislators in Illinois and New Jersey proposed bills that put sexual harassment training on the front burner. In February, Illinois Representative Ann M. Williams proposed the Restaurant Anti-Harassment Act, which would require all restaurants in the state to implement a sexual harassment policy and training for all employees and managers. If the law passes, employers must train employees within 90 days after the bill becomes effective (January 1, 2020) or within 30 days of being hired, and then every two years. The bill would also require the training to be tailored to the restaurant or hospitality industry and be available in English and Spanish.
In New Jersey, a similar bill (A4831) was introduced in January, requiring restaurants with 15 or more employees to train new employees on sexual harassment prevention within 90 days of being hired and then every five years. The bill specifies that the training should be interactive, include practical examples, and be specific to the restaurant industry. Separate courses would be offered for supervisors and nonsupervisory employees. The bill also requires each restaurant to adopt and circulate a sexual harassment policy. The fine for restaurants that fail to provide the training or adopt and distribute a sexual harassment policy would be up to $500 for a first offense.
There’s no summer slowdown for HR professionals – especially those in New York and California – who should have plans well underway to ensure their sexual harassment training and policies meet or exceed the requirements of new state laws. Restaurants in Illinois and New Jersey should also be implementing a workplace harassment program in anticipation of new laws that may be enacted later this year. And it’s likely this trend will continue. Restaurant businesses in other states should be on the alert for similar bills requiring sexual harassment training for employees and supervisors.