Earlier this year, New York passed a law requiring all employers to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to employees as well as comply with other requirements. Although the Department of Labor published guidance for employers on what the training must include, there is still confusion about several key points:
- Training deadline. The training deadline was recently extended. Employers must certify that they have given all employees training by October 9, 2019.
- Interactive requirement. The training must be interactive. It can be performed in person (individually or in groups), online or by phone and can be live or recorded. However, the training should allow as many of the following elements as possible:
- Asking questions of employees as part of the program;
- Accommodating questions asked by employees, with answers provided in a timely manner;
- Requiring feedback from employees about the training and the materials presented.
- Annual training. All employees must complete additional training at least once per year. This may be based on calendar year, anniversary of each employee’s start date or any other date the employer chooses.
- New hires. New employees must receive training “as soon as possible” after hiring. It is recommended that even if these employees received training by their prior employer, that the new employer provide said training.
- Training for supervisors and managers. Supervisors are held to a high standard of behavior. As a result, their training should include information addressing their conduct as well as their additional responsibilities to report harassment that they observe or know of, even if no one is objecting to the harassment.
- Non-English language training. Employers should provide employees with training in the language spoken by their employees. The State does offer template training in other languages. If an employee identifies a primary language for which a template is not available from the State, the employer may provide that employee an English-language version. However, as employers may be held liable for the conduct of all of their employees, employers are strongly encouraged to provide the policy and training in the language spoken by the employee.
- Relevant case studies/examples. Training should include examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment. Ideally, examples should reflect the work of the organization by including, industry specific scenarios.
- Consistency. To every extent possible, this training should be given consistently (using the same delivery method) across each organization’s workforce to ensure understanding at every level and at every location.
In order to comply with the law in a timely fashion, we urge employers to contact a qualified attorney to discuss how to proceed. To discuss your options or schedule training for your employees, contact Jeff Ettenger at 631-777-2404 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the training requirements, employers were required to provide their employees with a comprehensive written sexual harassment policy with specific language by October 9, 2018. If you do not have a written policy or have not updated it to comply with the new law, contact us.
To learn more about other changes in the law, read our related post: Big Changes For New York State Employers With New Anti-Sexual Harassment Requirements.