In the wake of numerous, high-profile workplace sexual harassment allegations, elected bodies around the country have sought to bolster employee protections. New or enhanced training initiatives are often featured as a key element of these legislative protections. Employers with New York City-based workers are facing a dual training obligation because both state and local authorities have separately introduced their own specific training obligations.
Wearing many hats at all times, employers and their human resources departments often find themselves in a complicated maze trying to decipher and keep up with the ever-changing and often complicated compliance requirements. Therefore, I’ve provided some fundamental highlights of the sexual harassment training requirements that should serve as a helpful resource:
New York State Requirements
The New York State training deadline was originally slated for October 2018, but has since been extended by one year to October 9, 2019. New York State has released a model training program and script for employers to utilize to satisfy the training requirements.
The training must be interactive and include all these elements:
- An explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights.
- Examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment.
- Information on the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment.
- Information on employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints.
- Information addressing conduct by supervisors and any additional responsibilities for such supervisors.
New York City Requirements
Employers with New York City-based workers are facing a dual training obligation because both state and local authorities have separately introduced their own specific training obligations. Recent developments1 released in April clearly indicate that the NYC training meets the training requirements of the state. However, it does not appear that the state’s training requirements meet the city’s ordinance. Therefore, employers with employees working in NYC may not rely on the state’s training to meet the city ordinance.
Instead, the NYC training, which took effect on April 1, 2019, must include the following elements:
- An explanation of sexual harassment as a form of unlawful discrimination under local, state, and federal law.
- A statement that sexual harassment is also a form of unlawful discrimination under state and federal law.
- A description of what sexual harassment is, using examples.
- Any internal complaint process available to employees through their employer to address sexual harassment claims.
- The complaint process available through the commission, the Division of Human Rights, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), including contact information.
- The prohibition of retaliation, and examples.
- Information concerning bystander intervention, including but not limited to any resources that explain how to engage in bystander intervention.
- 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.
A dedicated insurance broker should have experts available to help ensure that your organization remains compliant with all sexual harassment training requirements and provide resources to help you do so. At HUB International, we pride ourselves on developing meaningful training solutions and in-house compliance support for our clients.