Ensuring a safe workplace extends to keeping your employees safe from sexual harassment. In the State of New York, making sure all of your employees — not only supervisors and managers — are aware of sexual harassment laws is no longer optional.
New York is one of five states with sexual harassment prevention training laws that apply to all employees. New York City (NYC) has its own law as well, which applies to employers with 15 or more employees. The state’s law applies to all employers regardless of size, as well as to all contractors who bid on New York State contracts.
The law requires you to train all exempt and non-exempt employees, part-time workers, seasonal hires and temporary help every year. It applies to minors, such as child actors, as well. You must also provide sexual harassment prevention training to employees based outside the state who work any portion of their time in the state.
Annual Training for All Employees
The state deadline to put workplace sexual harassment training into effect was October 9, 2019. (The city’s deadline: December 31, 2019). Keep in mind that training must be repeated every year. You may track the completion date by the calendar year, the employee’s work anniversary or another date, but make sure all employees — both existing and new hires — are trained annually.
Workplace training for supervisors and managers can be offered separately or together with employees, but the training must cover the additional role supervisors have in reporting and preventing sexual harassment.
Your training should explain your workplace sexual harassment policy, describe how to report incidents, and let employees know that retaliation against employees who file complaints is illegal. Also, let employees who witness sexual harassment know how to report it and clearly state that sexual harassment is a form of employee misconduct.
Training Must Be Interactive
Be sure that your sexual harassment prevention training is interactive. That means employees must have a chance to ask and answer questions — whether the training is done in-person or online. Interactive training includes one or more of the following elements:
- Asks questions to gauge understanding
- Allows employees to ask questions (and receive answers)
- Includes a live trainer during the session to answer questions
- Requests feedback from employees about the training and the materials presented
What Should the Training Cover?
In addition to being interactive and detailing your workplace sexual harassment prevention policies, your training should:
- Define what sexual harassment is in a way consistent with the guidance issued by the NY Department of Labor
- Provide examples of unlawful sexual harassment
- Explain that sexual harassment is illegal under state and federal laws
- Describe the legal remedies and complaint process available to employees
- Include information about the requirements and responsibilities of supervisors and managers in preventing and reporting sexual harassment
During the annual training, you must provide employees:
- A notice about your company’s sexual harassment policy
- A copy of the information presented at the sexual harassment prevention training
Keep in mind that in New York, sexual harassment training must be repeated every year. The law doesn’t specify how long the training should be as long as it meets the minimum training standard. It’s OK if the training is provided by outside consultants or vendors. As a best practice, keep signed acknowledgements (including any vendor certification) from employees who complete the training along with a copy of all training records. (NYC requires employers to keep these records for three years).
Sexual Harassment Prevention Toolkit
The state of New York has created model training materials for employers. To satisfy the training requirements, employers may either:
- Adopt the state’s model training script, slides, and examples, or
- Provide other live training or interactive online/video training that meets or exceeds the law’s minimum standards.
The New York State model training program script is available here: https://www.ny.gov/sites/ny.gov/files/atoms/files/SexualHarassmentPreventionModelTraining.pdf
The state’s employer toolkit for sexual harassment prevention can be found here
Find out more by visiting the New York State Anti-Sexual Harassment website here
[Smart Tip] Did you know? Watching a training video or reading a document with no way to ask questions or get feedback is not considered interactive.
NY Workplace Sexual Harassment Training Law at a Glance
- The sexual harassment training law applies to all employers in New York State regardless of size
- All full-time, part-time, seasonal, exempt, non-exempt, and temporary employees must be trained
- Employees outside the state who work with in-state employees must be trained
- Training must be provided in the language spoken by employees
- Training must be interactive (allow participation, asking questions)
- Training must be repeated every year
- The training can be provided by outside vendors