Original Date: August 24, 2018

New York State recently released draft requirements for the upcoming Sexual Harassment training, policy and complaint form requirements.  The links and bulleted information below, outline the current expectations of organizations from the state.  There is a comment period open for the draft documents, which can be submitted until September 12, 2018.  More than likely, these will be the established norm moving forward for training, policy and the complaint forms.  Continue to monitor for updates and changes.

New York State Sexual Harassment Training, Policy and Complaint Form Requirements:

An employer’s sexual harassment prevention training must be interactive, meaning it requires some level of participation by those being trained. The training should include as many of the following elements as possible:

  • 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
  • Require feedback from employees about the training and the materials presented

Using the Training:

  • Script for in-person group training, available in PDF and editable Word formats
  • PowerPoint to accompany the script, available online and for download
  • Video presentation, viewable online and for download
  • FAQs, available online and for download, to accompany the training

Additional Training Expectations:

  • The training should detail any internal process employees are encouraged to use to complain and include the contact information for the specific name(s) and office(s) with which employees alleging harassment should file their complaints.
  • It should also be modified to reflect the work of the organization by including, for example, industry specific scenarios.
  • To every extent possible, this training should be given consistently across each organization’s workforce to ensure understanding at every level and at every location.
  • It is every employer’s responsibility to ensure all employees are trained to employer’s standards and familiar with the organization’s practices.
  • All employees should complete sexual harassment prevention training before January 1, 2019.
  • All employees must complete an 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.
  • All new employees should complete sexual harassment prevention training within 30 calendar days of their start date.
  • Employers should provide employees with training in the language that is spoken by their employees.

Training Checklist:

  • Be interactive;
  • Include an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights;
  • Include examples of unlawful sexual harassment;
  • Include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment;
  • Include information concerning employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints; and
  • Include information addressing conduct by supervisors and additional responsibilities for supervisors.

Sexual Harassment Policy Requirements:

  • prohibit sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights
  • provide examples of prohibited conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment
  • include information concerning 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
  • include a complaint form
  • include a procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints that ensures due process for all parties
  • inform employees of their rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially
  • 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
  • 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

Additional Policy Information

Complaint Form Requirements:

  • Speaking with the employee
  • Speaking with the alleged harasser
  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Collecting and reviewing any related documents

Bonus Section:

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q1. By what date do all of my employees need to be trained?

A1. All employees must complete the model training (link) or a comparable training that meets the minimum standards (link) by January 1, 2019.

Q2. How often must employees receive sexual harassment training?

A2. 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.

Q3. What about new employees or those who start after January 1?

A3. All employees must complete sexual harassment training within 30 calendar days of starting their job.

Q4. What if an employee only works part-time?

A4. Employers are required to ensure that all employees receive training.

*all information for each section was taken directly from language on the New York State links.

– Matthew Burr, HR Consultant

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