New York State Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training: How Can Employers Comply?

A sexual harassment prevention policy has become a necessity for all employers in New York State. They must inform the candidate of the company’s sexual harassment prevention policy during recruitment and each annual training session. The New York state mandatory sexual harassment training can be given to employees electronically as long as they can print it for their records.

In the aftermath of the #MeToo movement and extensive complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace, New York legislators have passed a series of projects, including a law that makes it compulsory for employers to provide annual sexual harassment training to all employees.

Because the training requirement is conventional, businesses that provide thorough harassment training are likely to cover the essentials. They can either employ a model curriculum developed by state authorities or build their sexual harassment training programs that meet or exceed state requirements.

What must the New York State Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training Provide?

  • They must describe sexual harassment and concrete examples of improper behavior in training.
  • Extensive information on national, state, and municipal legislation, as well as the remedies accessible to harassment victims.
  • An overview of employees’ exterior avenues for complaint redressal and the administrative and judicial channels they can file grievances.

According to the New York State mandate, employers who do not have anti-harassment policies, preventative guidelines, or training programs in place should design and implement them immediately. 

As long as the yearly training is performed, the employer can choose a date at their convenience for New York state mandatory sexual harassment training (calendar year, anniversary day, or any other date). Employers must keep track of training progress via attendance lists, certificates of accomplishment, or other methods for auditing purposes.

A Written Prevention Policy

Employers in New York must create a documented sexual harassment prevention policy and disseminate it to employees in addition to training. State authorities will issue an example policy, similar to the training, that employers can use.

Included in the policy must be:

  • A statement condemning sexual harassment and elaborating on what constitutes such behavior.
  • Information on federal and state sexual harassment statutes, as well as the remedies accessible to victims, as well as a warning that additional municipal regulations may exist.
  • A common complaint form.
  • Procedures for conducting a prompt and discreet investigation of complaints to ensure that all parties get treated fairly
  • An overview of employees’ external rights of redress, as well as the administrative and judicial channels via which they can file grievances.
  • A declaration that sexual assault is an aspect of employee misbehavior and that people who engage in sexual harassment and managers who knowingly enable such behavior will face the consequences.
  • According to this declaration, retaliation against employees who report sexual harassment, testify, or help in related processes is illegal.

What are the Training Requirements?

Suppose an employer does not design a training program personalized to their company; they can access the New York state mandatory sexual harassment training model created by the Department of Labor and the Division of Human Rights. Employers can easily access model training materials by downloading them. The requirement for training materials are as follows: 

  • Interactive training is required.
  • Include a description of sexual harassment by the Department of Labor developed in collaboration with the Division of Human Rights.
  • Present examples of conduct that would be considered sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • Include details on state and federal sexual harassment statutes, as well as the legal remedies to victims of harassment.
  • Provide data on employees’ redress rights as well as all relevant channels for adjudicating concerns.
  • Contain information about supervisory behavior and any additional obligations that supervisors may have.

Elements of New York State Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training

Sexual harassment training in New York City must include the same four elements as under state law. It also consists of the following points:

  1. Employees can file complaints with bodies such as the New York City Commission on Human Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  2. Examples of unlawful retribution for reporting alleged sexual harassment.
  3. Details on how onlookers can intervene if they notice ongoing sexual harassment.
  4. The responsibilities of supervisors and managers in terms of prevention and instances of how they can execute these duties.

By October 9, 2018, the DHR was obligated to establish a model training curriculum by state law. From that day onwards, employers had one year to complete their first sexual harassment training. 

The law in New York City mandated covered employers conduct training by December 31, 2019, and every year after that. Neither law makes any allowances for remote employment or other situations that may arise due to 2020’s challenges.

Obligations for Employers in New York city

Employers in New York will have to implement a new set of anti-harassment regulations into their rules and practices. The Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act, which comprises 11 legislation and will be one of the harsher anti-sexual-harassment laws in the country, was enacted by the New York City Council.

According to the ordinance, employers with 15 or more employees in the city will have to perform annual, interactive sexual harassment training for all staff, including trainees.

Although there is a lot of overlap between state and city regulations, New York City employers have some additional responsibilities. For example, they must include material about the role of bystander involvement in preventing workplace harassment in training.

Additional training for managers and supervisors will be required. These sessions should cover, at least, supervisory and management personnel’s specific responsibilities for preventing sexual harassment and retaliation and the steps they can take to address sexual harassment allegations adequately.

Employers must also preserve training records for at least three years and get acknowledgement forms from attendees.

Compliance Tips for New York Employers

Even employers with specific policies and training should evaluate the new rules and make any required changes to their existing programs. Employers must not depend on sample documents when establishing and implementing programs. Even though protections are comparable, procedures for one company may not operate as well in another.

Employers are urged to collaborate with their preferred human resources specialists and employment lawyers to establish and execute appropriate policies and procedures for their businesses.

An employer’s best advantage is to have a user-friendly and effective complaint mechanism in place to guarantee a harassment-free workplace. They can benefit from a workplace training program by ensuring that their employees are aware and comfortable implementing the policies and procedures. They must also keep a note of the method’s practical application.

Bottom line

The statute in New York City only affects businesses with fifteen or more employees. Still, the state law extends to all industries, and companies must conduct the training annually with extensive information across all legislative levels. 

This rule is still in effect, even for firms who have transferred their workforces to remote working. Sexual harassment claims are filed in every type of employment, from workplaces to factories to virtual settings, according to New York City sexual harassment lawyers. 

Just because an employee is not required to report to work in person does not imply they will not get subjected to unwelcome sexual advances or remarks, as well as other forms of hostile behavior.

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