Revised: March 2021
Updated: October 2020
Updated Publication Date: September 9, 2019
Original Publication Date: April 29, 2019
As a reminder on, October 9, 2019 is the date set by New York State for all employers to have the mandatory sexual harassment training completed for all employees (including governmental employees), interns, etc. This is an annual training requirement. The annual refresher training will soon be upon us. The state has broadened the laws regarding filing a claim of sexual harassment, making it easier for claims to be filed against an employer.
Sexual Harassment Policy Updates with recent legislation changes:
- Eliminate the language “severe and pervasive”
- Modify Division of Human Rights claim from 1-year to 3-years
- Policy, handbook, PPT slides and any training material should be updated to reflect these changes
- Communicate these changes as part of the annual training, with examples
- Update slides with new legislative changes
- Train new hires as soon as possible (as outlined by the state, watch NYC requirements)
- I recommend training Board of Directors (even if its policy related) and volunteer groups
New York State Recommended Posting:
- This is not mandated but recommended. I recommend utilizing the posting and posting a copy of the sexual harassment policy near labor and employment law posters.
- New York City has posting requirements
New York State Sexual Harassment Website:
- No updates have been made to the state website, I will update in upcoming articles with any policy or training slides that the state updates.
I am happy to work with any organization to establish the Sexual Harassment policy, update a policy, train the workforce (managers and supervisors should be trained separately), design training material and/or work on the posting material.
- Posting & Communication Material
- Sexual Harassment Quiz (I utilize one with 10-questions, requiring the trainer and employee to signoff)
- Annual Notice (Available through state website or me)
- Supervisor & Managers should be in a separate training
- Monitor for changes in NYC & any specific state requirements (California, Illinois, etc. have differing requirements than New York State.)
Original Publication 4/29/2019:
As all of us are aware, on October 1, 2018, New York State released final guidance on the state’s new sexual harassment prevention laws and regulations. The new legislation requires all employers in New York State to publish policies concerning sexual harassment, adopt a sexual harassment complaint form, and conduct sexual harassment training. The state also recommends a posting as part of the policy and complaint procedure. The advice I provide to all of my clients is, to utilize the state recommended posting and post the policy and complaint form near the labor posters as well. New York City requires employers to have a posting in the workplace, with differing requirements then the state regarding training, policy, etc.
Legal Requirements in New York State:
- New York State Claim Filing (1-year to file with the NYS Department of Human Rights & 3-years to file in NYS Supreme Court)
- Damages & Remedies (Back Pay, Front Page, Compensatory Damages, Interest on Back Pay & Attorney’s Fees)
- Not Training Employees (Civil Fine up to $100,000.00, Litigation Penalty, Order to Comply, Contempt of Court & Stop Work Order)
- First Round of Training done by 10/9/2019
- New Hires after 10/9/2019 (as quickly as possible)
- Examples and explanations are imperative in the training, remember to engage the workforce
- Training Recommendations (Board of Directors & Volunteers)
- Training Considerations (Sign-in/Sign-Out Sheet, Training Materials, Video of Training, Certificate of Completion)
- Interactive (Web-based questions at the end of section, answers to questions, option to submit a question online and receive an answer, questions throughout a live training, feedback survey for employees to turn in after they have completed the training, roleplaying, open discussion, scenarios, open activities, small group activities, etc.)
These are just a few of the legal requirements as outlined by New York State and the Department of Human Rights. All employers should be committed to training employees, managers, board of directors and volunteers annually. There is no justification not to train, as it is required under the new law. A quick policy review training, will not suffice the requirements as outlined by New York State and the Department of Human Rights. This is not a complex training and can be completed in 2-hours, or less. The majority of my trainings last between 2 and 2.5 hours. Great discussions in a small group setting, with interactive case discussions.
Below are Training Reminders:
- An explanation of sexual harassment and specific examples of inappropriate conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment.
- Detailed information concerning federal, state and local laws and the remedies available to victims of harassment.
- A review of any additional local policies, employer’s standards and organizational practices.
- Detail regarding any internal process that employees are encouraged to use to complain, and the contact information with specific names and offices with which employees should file their complaints.
- A review of supervisor and managers responsibilities in addressing this form of employee misconduct. (as needed in supervisor/management sessions)
- An explanation of employees’ external rights of redress and the available administrative and judicial forums for bringing complaints.
- A review of the employer complaint form.
- Employer procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints that ensures due process for all parties.
- Retaliation against individuals who complain of sexual harassment or who testify or assist in any investigation or proceeding involving sexual harassment is unlawful.
- Quiz design and use to end the session. (discussion cases throughout)
- Question and answer session with feedback
- All other requirements as outlined under federal and state law
- Any and all over legally required information by New York State, NYC or local legislation
The tools and resources that were released on October 1 include:
- Updated website with resources for employers, employees, state contractors and targets of sexual harassment
- Updated model sexual harassment prevention policy
- Updated model sexual harassment complaint form
- Updated model training (script book and PowerPoint presentation)
- Updated minimum standards for sexual harassment prevention policies and trainings
- Updated FAQs
- Toolkits for employers and employees and a sexual harassment prevention policy poster are also being made available.
New York: NYC Mandates Annual Anti-Harassment Training (4/1/19)[i]
“The Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act requires New York City employers with 15 or more employees to provide annual interactive training to prevent sexual harassment for all employees, including interns and supervisory and managerial employees.
Such training is also required for new employees within 90 days of hire (however, an employee who has received sexual-harassment training at one employer within the required training cycle does not need to receive additional training at another employer until the next cycle).
The act defines “interactive training” as “participatory teaching whereby the trainee is engaged in a trainer-trainee interaction, use of audio-visuals, computer or online training program or other participatory forms of training as determined by the commission.””[ii]
[i] Burr Consulting Article 4/1/2019
[ii] SHRM Update