How to Implement an Effective Anti-Harassment Training Plan

How to Implement an Effective Anti-Harassment Training Plan

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Welcome! This is your 2019 Complete Guide to Anti-harassment Training.

The following information is designed to help you more efficiently assess your options in implementing an anti-harassment training program in your organization.

Whether you have 200 employees or 20,000, addressing harassment prevention training mandates both effectively and at scale can be a challenge. The experts at Impactly® have helped thousands of companies implement effective compliance training programs. From Google and Amazon to Kimberly-Clark and McAfee, we understand that every organization has its own unique set of considerations when deciding on the right approach.

In this post, we will:

  • Summarize training mandates (as of April, 2019);
  • Review pros and cons of different training methods;
  • Compare leading online and in-person training vendors; and
  • Review Prevention Best Practices.

The following information was originally presented in webinar format on April 2, 2019. Watch the full webinar on-demand here>>

Anti-Harassment Training Requirements by State

Which states have anti-harassment training requirements?

California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Washington, D.C., New York State and New York City now have their own harassment prevention laws that require anti-harassment training. If the following mandates do apply to your organization, you may want to review our anti-harassment vendor comparison guide for help evaluating your options to meet the requirements.

New York State Anti-Harassment Training Requirements

This is your updated summary of the New York State anti-harassment training requirements. Click here for a full FAQ of all state and regional anti-harassment training mandates.

  • New York employers affected? All.
  • By what date do all of my employees need to be trained?
    All employees must complete the model training (link) or a comparable training that meets the minimum standards (link) by October 9, 2019.
  • How often must employees receive sexual harassment training?
    Employees must be trained at least once per year. In subsequent years, this may be based on the calendar year, anniversary of each employee’s start date or any other date the employer chooses.
  • What about new employees? As employers may be liable for the actions of employees immediately upon hire, the State encourages training as soon as possible. Employers should distribute the policy to employees prior to commencing work and should have it posted.
  • What if an employee only works part-time? Employers are required to ensure that all employees receive training.
  • What about employees who received the same training from a prior employer within the past year? It is your responsibility to ensure that all employees are trained to your company standards and familiar with your company practices. If both you and the individual’s former employer use the same unmodified state model training or one of similar substance (for example, shared training provided by a labor union or employer group), you may consider the employee trained. However, even if the same training is used, may still wish to train all new employees to your standards.
  • What does “interactive” mean? New York State law requires all sexual harassment training to be interactive. It requires some form of employee participation, meaning the training may:
  • Be web-based with questions asked of employees as part of the program;
  • Accommodate questions asked by employees;
  • Include a live trainer made available during the session to answer questions; and/or
  • Require feedback from employees about the training and the materials presented.
  • Does the free New York State online training meet the interactivity requirement? No, but the free New York City anti-harassment training course provided by the NYC Commission on Human Rights that was released on April 1, 2019, does comply with the New York State interactivity requirements.
  • What happens if some employees fail to take the training despite an employer’s best efforts to make it available, and to require everyone to take it? Employers are required to ensure that all employees receive training on an annual basis. Employers may take appropriate administrative remedies to ensure compliance.
  • What about temporary / transient employees? If someone just works for one day for the employer, or if someone works for just one day in NY? Employers are required to ensure that all New York State employees receive training.
  • What if my company works with New York State agencies? As of January 1, 2019, employers submitting bids to New York State or any of its public departments or agencies for a public contract will need to include a prescribed statement in the bid certifying compliance with the sexual harassment prevention policy and annual training requirements. Failure to provide such certified statement may result in ineligibility for the contract.

New York City Anti-Harassment Training Requirements

This is your updated summary of the New York City anti-harassment training requirements. Click here for a full FAQ of all state and regional anti-harassment training mandates.

  • By what date do all of my employees need to be trained? Effective April 1, 2019, employers with 15 or more employees must complete interactive anti-sexual harassment training for all employees employed within New York City as soon as possible upon hire, and once every calendar year thereafter. Employers who have already delivered the NY State anti-harassment training at any point in 2019, as long as the training meets the NYC requirements, do not have to retrain employees in 2019.
  • How soon must new hires be trained? Employers should provide training to new staff as soon as possible after hire. Upon hire, employers are liable for sexual harassment by new employees.
  • Do my NYC supervisors need to receive additional training? Yes.
  • Are there specific topics that need to be addressed in the supervisor training? Yes. The NYC supervisor training must address the specific responsibilities of supervisory and managerial employees in the prevention of sexual harassment and retaliation, and measures that such employees may take to appropriately address sexual harassment complaints.
  • Are there any types of employees that are exempt from the training under the law? Employers must train any employee who works more than 80 hours in a calendar year in a full or part-time capacity. Interns are included, provided they meet the 80 hour requirement.
  • What about employees who received the same training from a prior employer within the past year? It is your responsibility to ensure that all employees are trained to your company standards and familiar with your company practices?
  • What does “interactive” mean? “Interactive training” means participatory teaching whereby the trainee is engaged in a trainer-trainee interaction, and includes use of audio-visuals, computer or online training program or other participatory forms of training as determined by the New York Human Rights Commission. However, “interactive training” is not required to be live or facilitated by an in-person instructor.
  • What happens if some employees fail to take the training despite an employer’s best efforts to make it available, and to require everyone to take it? Employers are required to ensure that all employees receive training on an annual basis. Employers may take appropriate administrative remedies to ensure compliance.
  • How long do completion records need to be stored? NYC requires employers to keep a record of all training, including a signed employee acknowledgment, which may be electronic. Employers must maintain the records for three years and such records must be made available for commission inspection upon request.
  • How often should employers train employees? Employers must provide their employees with an anti-sexual harassment training at least once per calendar year. Fulfilling the annual training requirement can be based on the calendar year, anniversary of each employee’s start date, or any other date the employer chooses.

California Anti-Harassment Training Requirements (SB 1343)

This is your updated summary of the California anti-harassment training requirements (SB 1343). Click here for a full FAQ of all state and regional anti-harassment training mandates.

Executive Summary:

  • Senate Bill No. 1343 signed into law September 30, 2018
  • Deadline: All employees must be trained by January 1, 2020
  • Employers affected: All employers with at least 5 employees
  • Who must be trained: All employees
  • Frequency: Every 2 years
  • Duration of the training:
  • 2 hours of training to all supervisory employees
  • 1 hour of training to all non-supervisory employees
  • Deadline for new employees: Within 6 months of the employee’s assumption of either a supervisory or non-supervisory position.
  • Beginning January 1, 2020, if an employee is hired to work for less than 6 months, the employer must provide sexual harassment prevention training within 30 calendar days after the hire date or within 100 hours worked, whichever occurs first.

Full Summary:

By what date do my employees need to be trained?

  • Effective January 1, 2019 – All Employees: within six months of hire and every two years.
  • Effective January 1, 2020 – All Employees: If an employer has provided a compliant training after January 1, 2019, the employer is not required to provide the training again before the January 1, 2020 deadline.
  • Effective January 1, 2020 – All employees: for seasonal and temporary employees, or any employee hired to work for less than six months, an employer shall provide training within 30 calendar days or within 100 hours worked, whichever occurs first.
  • How often do my employees need to be trained? In subsequent years, post-deadlines above, within six months of hire and every two years.
  • In 2019, do I need to RETRAIN California employees who were trained in 2018? Yes. According to recent (January, 2019) guidance from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, 2019 is a mandatory training year under SB1343, irrespective of who you may have trained in 2018.
  • What about newly hired employees? Within six months of hire.
  • What if an employee only works part-time? Seasonal or temporary employees or those hired for less than six months must be trained within 30 days of hire (effective January 1, 2020)
  • What about employees who received the same training from a prior employer within the past year? It is your responsibility to ensure that all employees are trained to your company standards and familiar with your company practices.
  • What does “interactive” mean? Training is individualized, interactive, computer-based training created by a trainer and an instructional designer. An e-learning training shall provide a link or directions on how to contact a trainer who shall be available to answer questions and to provide guidance and assistance about the training within a reasonable period of time after the supervisor asks the question, but no more than two business days after the question is asked. The trainer shall maintain all written questions received, and all written responses or guidance provided, for a period of two years after the date of the response. For any of the above training methods, the instruction shall include questions that assess learning, skill-building activities that assess the supervisor’s application and understanding of content learned, and numerous hypothetical scenarios about harassment, each with one or more discussion questions so that supervisors remain engaged in the training. Examples include pre- or post-training quizzes or tests, small group discussion questions, discussion questions that accompany hypothetical fact scenarios, use of brief scenarios discussed in small groups or by the entire group, or any other learning activity geared towards ensuring interactive participation as well as the ability to apply what is learned to the supervisor’s work environment.
  • What happens if some employees fail to take the training despite an employer’s best efforts to make it available, and to require everyone to take it? Employers are required to ensure that all employees receive and complete the training. Employers may take appropriate administrative remedies to ensure compliance.
  • What about temporary / transient employees? Employers are required to ensure that all employees receive training in accordance with California law. For temporary employees (those who work less than six months or less than 100 hours), the training must be completed within 30 days of hire (effective January 1, 2020).
  • Are there any specific training requirements for the supervisors? Covered employers are also required to include prevention of abusive conduct as a component of the two-hour minimum required harassment training, and to provide ongoing abusive conduct prevention training to each supervisory employee every two years.
  • Are there any specific topics that need to be addressed in the training for supervisors? The training must include, but is not limited to: a definition of unlawful sexual harassment under the FEHA and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. In addition to a definition of sexual harassment, an employer may provide a definition of and train about other forms of harassment covered by the FEHA, and discuss how harassment of an employee can cover more than one basis; FEHA and Title VII statutory provisions and case law principles concerning the prohibition against and the prevention of unlawful sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation in employment; the types of conduct that constitutes sexual harassment; remedies available for sexual harassment victims in civil actions and potential employer/individual exposure/liability; strategies to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace; supervisors’ obligation to report sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation of which they become aware; practical examples, such as factual scenarios taken from case law, news and media accounts, hypotheticals based on workplace situations and other sources, which illustrate sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation using training modalities such as role plays, case studies and group discussions; the limited confidentiality of the complaint process; resources for victims of unlawful sexual harassment, such as to whom they should report any alleged sexual harassment; the steps necessary to take appropriate remedial measures to correct harassing behavior, among others.

For additional state mandates for Connecticut, Delaware, Maine and Washington, D.C., please visit our complete anti-harassment compliance FAQ summary guide>>


Online or In-Person Anti-Harassment Training?

There are many considerations when deciding whether online or in-person anti-harassment training is right for your organization. While not an exhaustive list, here’s our top 7 list of reasons an organization should go with online training v. in-person:

  1. Distributed or remote workforce: If you have employees distributed across the state, and you have an annual or bi-annual training mandate (see which states have harassment training mandates), online training can be an efficient and cost effective approach. While in-person may be your preferred method from an employee engagement perspective, it may be logistically difficult to get all employees together for a single training event.
  2. Multi-state employer: If you have employees in multiple states with different training requirements, online training through a vendor who has multiple course versions for each jurisdiction is a great way to ensure continuity of messaging and delivery, while also ensuring that you’re compliant in each state or region. Click here for a complete guide to anti-harassment training vendors.
  3. Temporary or Seasonal Workforce: Click here to review anti-harassment training rules governing temporary or seasonal employees. If your state requires that temporary or seasonal employees need to be trained, then you’ll almost certainly need to make the training a part of your new hire on-boarding process. If that’s the case, online is simply the most efficient and cost effective way to deliver this frequency of anti-harassment training.
  4. Workforce access to computers/smartphones: Many large organizations have a distributed workforce, and among those, there are industries like manufacturing and shipping where there’s very limited access to computers and even smartphones. These organizations may meet the other criteria for online training, but without a mechanism to receive online training, in-person may be your only option. Click here for a review of in-person anti-harassment training options.
  5. Hires frequently: Similar to our analysis above for temporary and seasonal employees, if your organization hires with a high frequency, you’ll likely need to make the training a part of your employee on-boarding process. As such, in-person will likely be logistically and cost-prohibitive. For a summary of state and regional training requirements for new hires, check out our FAQ guide on anti-harassment training mandates.
  6. No training software in place (administration, tracking): Most online training vendors provide a lightweight learning management system (LMS) to help with the administration of anti-harassment training. This includes the functionality to assign specific courses to groups of employees, to schedule auto-reminders, and track and store completion records. If you don’t have an LMS, but meet other criteria for online anti-harassment training, most vendors offer this service at no additional cost. Click here for pricing information for anti-harassment training vendors.
  7. Intent to go beyond compliance mandates: More than 300,000 employers are subject to anti-harassment training mandates at the state and regional level. But for many employers, the goal isn’t just to meet the harassment prevention training mandates, but to go beyond them. This can be a tall order for resource constrained organizations. As such, relying on online anti-harassment training can be a great, cost efficient baseline that frees up time and resources for other harassment prevention initiatives like workplace climate surveys, and tailored booster training and workshops.

More Options: In-person, virtual, self-paced, off-the-shelf, custom

Online and in-person aren't your only training options. This next section takes a deeper comparative look at the full spectrum of harassment prevention training options.

As someone who has advised hundreds of global compliance departments and university Title IX departments on building effective and scalable compliance and prevention programs, here’s the framework I’ve used in helping to guide executives through this evaluation process.



  • In-person can be a great way to deliver a highly interactive training experience for your employees.
  • The group dynamic of in-person can foster important dialogue between employees on sensitive topics.
  • If you’re using an outside partner, like a Littler Mendelson or Jackson Lewis, they’ll do all the work in
    preparing and delivering for the training session(s).


  • For multi-state employers or employers with a remote workforce, in-person training may prove cost prohibitive.
  • If you’re in NY or CA, and you hire monthly, the frequency that you’ll need to train new hires might also make in-person training logistically and financially prohibitive.
  • In-person training is also less flexible and can be difficult to coordinate for even small, single location employers. If the goal is 100% participation, getting your entire team in the same place for a live event can be challenging.


Major labor & employment law firms like Littler Mendelson and Jackson Lewis offer virtual, webinar style training. These events are typically live, and allow for some real-time interaction and Q&A.


  • If you have an existing, trusted relationship with an in-person trainer but need to scale that up to a larger or more distributed population, virtual can be a great approach.
  • This can be a very cost effective method to reach a distributed workforce. Firms often charge similar rates for virtual as they do for in-person, and virtual can reach a much larger, more distributed population.


  • Tracking: Virtual events are not typically set up to give you participation tracking or certificates of certification at the employee level. Paper sign-in sheets are not advisable, if you can avoid it.
  • Engagement: Virtual events are often a highly passive experience. While there may be poll questions or encouragement for employees to submit questions, there’s no forced engagement built into the learning experience.
  • Interactivity: One of the biggest pros for in-person is the ability for groups or teams to be trained on harassment prevention together. This presents an opportunity for workshop-style engagement that’s difficult to replicate virtually.


Self-paced is what’s more commonly referred to as off-the-shelf or online compliance training. This type of delivery can be powered by vendors like NAVEX Global, EVERFI, ThinkHR, Emtrain, or SAI. It’s also possible to deliver your own internally built courses (via SCORM, AICC or other) through an LMS like Cornerstone or Workday.


  • Self-paced can be a great way to deliver harassment prevention training at scale. Much depends on the quality of the instructional design and instructional writing, but there are several vendors that specialize in building these types of engaging training experiences.
  • Tracking requirements in CA and NY and elsewhere can be onerous if you’re record keeping with sign-in sheets and file cabinets. Self-paced programs can integrate into LMS platforms and give you proof of completion.
  • Self-paced also can be a predictable and cost-effective approach, as many vendors sell flat-fee annual licenses to use their courses and also commit to updates at no additional charge.


  • Self-paced, like virtual, lacks live engagement among employees. When training on topics that relate to conduct, it can be important to teach through team scenarios and workshops.
  • If building your own self-paced content, you’ll undoubtedly face heavy critique from management and employees on the final design and approach. As much time and resources that go into its development, you’ll be expected to make changes and updates on an annual basis. This comes at a cost to you and your team that should be understood upfront.
  • If licensing self-paced content from a vendor, you should expect to have considerable limitations on customizations. With current content authoring technology, the best courses (the ones you’re most likely to want to buy) don’t make it easy to customize. As such, even minor changes can present time and cost hurdles.


Custom refers to the self-paced delivery of content that’s been built ground-up or through heavy customization of an off-the-shelf course(s).


  • Ah, custom! Creating a custom course or heavily modifying an off-the-shelf course can be a great way to leverage the advantages of self-paced training but with a tailored experience that’s more likely to resonate with your workforce.


  • If you’re building your own custom course internally, the self-paced challenges in the previous section apply.
  • If you’re entrusting your custom course creation to a vendor like LRN, EVERFI or NAVEX Global, then you’re committing yourself to that relationship for as long as you intend to use that course or a version of it. Because they’ve built it, they’ll be the ones who control its updates and modifications. It the vendor is good, this may not be a problem. But even good vendors have limitations.
  • If your CEO wants to change 3 words in the introductory scenario, well, you’re going to have to pay for that– and it’s going to take a couple of weeks. This can be frustrating– but it should be an understood tradeoff in partnering with a vendor for the development of your next harassment prevention course.

2019 Online Compliance Training Vendor Comparison Guide

So you’ve been tasked with evaluating online compliance training vendors. Now what?

Get started by reviewing Impactly’s side-by-side comparison of the leading online anti-harassment training vendors below (mobile friendly version here). Not sure if or how the anti-harassment training mandates apply to your organization? Read our FAQ post on which states require harassment training.

Products & Pricing

In this section, we’ll compare pricing, courses offered and key features for each major online compliance training vendor.

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Download Full Guide Here>>

Looking for in-person sexual harassment & discrimination training? Read here to learn more about your training options.


Training vendors often tailor their solutions to meet unique needs of a particular type of business or industry. Whether you’re a small tech company in New York or a large multi-national manufacturing company, you should want to understand for whom each vendor is building its products and services.

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About the Business

Before you buy, learn more about your future online compliance training partner. You’re not just licensing a platform or training courses, you’re partnering with a vendor that will power one of the most visible employee engagement solutions you offer.

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Download PDF Version Here>>

Still not sure which online compliance training vendor is right for you?

If price is your primary decision making criteria Emtrain and Traliant offer the most competitive pricing, while still offering a high quality online training experience.

If you need global compliance training content, NAVEX GLOBAL and SAI Global have the largest catalogs. EVERFI and Skillsoft also offer robust global course catalogs.

If you don’t have your own LMS, all of the listed vendors offer basic LMS functionality to deliver training to your employees and track completion records. Skillsoft also owns SumTotal which is a complete LMS solution, and also offers several other deployment options depending on customer needs.

If you want to build your own custom course, LRN, EVERFI, Skillsoft and NAVEX have built bespoke content for companies like Kodak and Google. Custom courses can be expensive, but entrusting a ground-up course build to an expert can be a great way to ensure a high quality (and compliant) final product.

If Then Analysis >>

You should choose SAI Global:

  • if you’re a global company that needs a large catalog of training topics in different languages.
  • if you need an integrated risk management solution that includes hotline and case management.

You should choose NAVEX GLOBAL:

  • if you’re a Fortune 500 company that needs a proven compliance training provider. As the saying goes: “no one ever got fired for hiring IBM” or NAVEX.
  • if you need an integrated risk management solution that includes hotline and case management.
  • if video is your preferred method of format.

You should choose Skillsoft:

  • if you also need a complete Learning Management System (SumTotal).
  • if you also need a full suite of employee learning content (e.g. Workplace Safety, Business Skills, Leadership, Technology & Developer)

You should choose EVERFI:

  • if you’re a US-based mid to large enterprise that’s not overly price sensitive and values modern instructional design.
  • if you’re looking for prevention focused compliance curriculum.
  • if you need a custom-course built.

You should choose Emtrain:

  • if you’re a small to mid size business that’s looking for high quality, but reasonably priced training content.
  • if you want to support a women-led business.

You should choose Traliant:

  • if your primary driver is high-quality training that is customized quickly and cost-effectively. While free options exist, Traliant is the most affordably priced of the high quality providers of online compliance training.

Is Your Harassment Prevention Training Working?

Thanks to new training mandates in California, New York and Delaware, more employees will be trained on sexual harassment & discrimination prevention in 2019 than ever before.

Previous harassment prevention training mandates, like California AB 1825, focused primarily on teaching supervisors about reporting responsibilities and what constitutes harassment. As a result, the majority of compliance training content (historically) has been centered around managing within the law rather than holistically addressing EEOC prevention best practices.

This “check the box” approach has also defined how sexual harassment & discrimination prevention training initiatives have been measured. Specifically, completion or participation numbers have been the key metrics for HR in reporting the relative success or failure of an annual harassment prevention training initiative.

Those days are over.

Thanks to the increased public pressure from the #metoo movement, along with #metoo legislation like SB 1343 in California and the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act that requires all employees be trained, there’s now an increased expectation relating to the quality of harassment prevention training initiatives.

Put simply, employers need to defend both the efficacy and investment of their harassment prevention initiatives.

The Rise of the Workplace Climate Survey

The question is: how do you measure the efficacy of your harassment prevention initiatives?

An article published in Harvard Business Review in January, 2018 introduced a very simple, and approachable way to answer that question: ask your employees. Referred to by the EEOC as climate surveys, these questionnaires can help employers measure the efficacy of existing prevention programs as well identify blind spots relating to harassment and discrimination.

In its 2016 study of harassment in the workplace, the EEOC made the following recommendation: “Employers should conduct climate surveys to assess the extent to which harassment is a problem in their organization.”

There are 5 key benefits to conducting a workplace climate survey:

  1. Better understand your training investment: mandatory sexual harassment prevention training may be one of your only, if not the only, company wide training initiatives. As such, defending your annual training strategy and budget will be an ongoing challenge. Need to upgrade training vendors? Need approval for booster training? Climate Survey data will help demonstrate ROI and get buy-in with key executives.
  2. Identify gaps in knowledge: What constitutes harassment? Where do you report? How do you report? Ensure that employees are retaining key information in your training, and identify gaps where booster training or other educational programs can be implemented.
  3. Identify risks and opportunities: Invariably there will be areas for improvement revealed in your workplace climate survey– and in some instances, there will be clear risk areas. Uncover those before they become front page news.
  4. Demonstrate commitment: Sexual harassment & discrimination training is often viewed as a check the box initiative. Irrespective of the quality of your training, by implementing a workplace climate survey, you’re signaling to your employees that you want to identify opportunities to improve and go beyond “check the box.”
  5. Benchmark: Measuring your year-over-year improvement is important. But to really understand what “good” looks like, it’s important to compare your workplace climate survey against industry peers. This will also help in getting executive and board level support for future prevention initiatives.
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