Sexual Harassment Training New York: Everything You Need To Know

Every employer in New York is required to provide employees with sexual harassment training to  prevent unlawful harassments from occurring at workplaces. Though it is usually seen as a common issue faced by employees, sometimes they may ignore it or pass by as they are unaware of how to react. 

Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy 

The policy adopted by employers to prevent sexual harassment at work includes:

  • It must forbid sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights.
  • The policy must provide examples of prohibited conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment.
  • It must include information regarding the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment, remedies available to victims of sexual harassment, and a statement that there may be applicable local laws.
  • It must include a complaint form.
  • Moreover, the policy must include a procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints that ensures due process for all parties.
  • Also, the policy must inform employees of their rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially.
  • It must clearly state that sexual harassment is considered a form of employee misconduct and that sanctions will be enforced against individuals engaging in sexual harassment and against supervisory and managerial personnel who knowingly allow such behavior to continue.
  • The policy must clearly state that retaliation against individuals who complain of sexual harassment or who testify or assist in any investigation or proceeding involving sexual harassment is unlawful. 

New York Sexual Harassment Prevention Training – What It Entails?

A 1-hour sexual harassment prevention training guides employees through important federal and state discrimination and sexual harassment laws that they must abide by. 

  • It applies the laws to real-life workplace scenarios and presents legal definitions for discrimination and sexual harassment. 
  • Employee edition of training educates employees on how they can become more aware of sexual harassment as well as ways to prevent such occurrences.
  • Moreover, the New York State law requires sexual harassment prevention training to explain employees, their rights to redress, in addition to providing information about all available forums for employees seeking to adjudicate harassment complaints.
  • City law goes a step further, mandating that employers outline how employees can report within the workplace, in addition to the claim filing process of the New York State Division of Human Rights, the EEOC, and the New York City Commission on Human Rights. 

Basic Requirements To Make It Effective and Compliant

Studies show that having training that occurs regularly with “varied and dynamic” content, i.e., training that builds on previous lessons and engages learners directly, has a direct and positive effect on company culture. An organization must consider the below-mentioned basic requirements of conducting sexual harassment training to make it effective. 

1. Time Period of Training

  • The model training for New York State and City takes about 45 minutes to complete. 
  • When it comes to arming your employees with the knowledge and tools they need to prevent harassment in the workplace, you may want to revisit the training or break the training materials up into multiple courses or meetings. 
  • Training once a year is the minimum requirement. Still, if you’re looking to make a cultural difference in harassment prevention, it is recommended to conduct the training year-round.

2. Employees Requirements 

  • New York law defines an “employee” as all workers, regardless of immigration status and whether they are full-time, part-time, exempt, non-exempt, seasonal, or temporary. Minors (e.g., child actors) are also required to train, although some modifications might be permitted depending on age.
  • Employers subject to NYC laws are required to train all full-time employees as well as any part-time workers, independent contractors, interns, and freelancers who have worked for more than 80 hours per year and for at least 90 days. 
  • In both instances, new hires should be trained “as soon as possible” after hire, but NYC employees who work 80+ hours/year must have completed their training within 90 days of hire.

3. Training Records

  • New York does not require employers to keep records of their sexual harassment prevention training on the state level. Still, the Department of Labor recommends employers keep training records for possible future complaints or lawsuits.
  • New York City employers are required to keep records for three years minimum, however, and they must be made available for inspection by the New York City Commission on Human Rights at any time. These records must contain a signed acknowledgment of training by the employee, in print or electronic form.

4. Must be Interactive

  • State and city guidelines specify that training should be interactive, whether administered to individuals or a group, in-person or online, or live or recorded. 
  • Both guidelines require audience participation, and they suggest trainers ask questions throughout the training. 
  • NY State notes that if training is web-based, the employee must answer those questions properly. 
  • It also encourages employers to provide timely answers to employee questions and ask for feedback about the presented materials.

5. Should be Presented Both in English and Employee’s Primary Language

  • Employers must provide both their sexual harassment policy and training in English and their primary language (Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Haitian-Creole, Bengali, or Italian). 
  • Although New York City has no such requirement, the commission’s online training is available in ten languages. It includes key accessibility elements for persons with disabilities who may have difficulty accessing the online training.

6. Should Be Uniform

  • New York’s Department of Labor insists that training should be uniform, meaning that every employee should receive the basic instructions, prevention methods, rules, and laws during the training. 
  • Delivery can be somewhat flexible, but everyone should be learning from the same curriculum.

Tips To Make the Training a Satisfactory One

A satisfactory training must include:

  • A Definition of Sexual Harassment – This feels like another no-brainer, which is why we’ve prioritized it first on this list. Both kinds of harassment, “quid pro quo” and “hostile environment,” must be clearly defined. In NYC, sexual harassment must also be defined as unlawful discrimination under NYC law. Both New York State and City model trainings provide these definitions for use.
  • Federal and State Provisions and Remedies – Training should communicate the legal protections and governmental resources available for those who experience or witness sexual harassment.
  • Complaints and Redress Processes, Both Internally and Externally – Employees should know your organization’s formal complaint process (if there is one) as well as the process for filing a complaint externally with the most-relevant local or federal office. 
  • Language on Retaliation – This isn’t a state requirement, but NYC requires that trainers cover the prohibition of retaliation and include examples of retaliation for speaking up.
  • Bystander Intervention- New York City sexual harassment prevention training must define, provide examples of, and instruct learners how to engage in bystander intervention when it concerns unlawful discrimination. 

Final Thoughts

To avoid sexual harassment to the maximum, it is mandatory for employers to give proper training to their employees under the New York State and city law. It not only helps employees voice out the situations but also gives the opportunity where every employee is treated with respect.

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