All employers must train all employees regarding sexual harassment once every year. On August 12, 2019 New York Governor Cuomo signed a package of anti-discrimination and anti-harassment measures (AO8421) which have a direct impact on harassment prevention training in New York. (1)
Are there any relevant New York laws I should know about?
NY State Budget, Park KK, Subpart E, Section 2 (S07057); Article 7, Section 201-g of the Labor Law; Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act Local Law 96 of 2018; New York City Administrative Code, Title 8, Chapter 1, Section 8-107 Subdivision 30; A08421
What companies must provide training?
Every company in New York or any company that has employees that work in New York. (2) (3)
Who must be trained?
Every employee who works in New York (4) and any employee that regularly interacts with other employees in New York City.
How frequently must employees be trained?
All employees must be trained every year. (5)
When must employees be trained?
All employees must be trained by October 9, 2019. Employees in New York City must be trained within 90 days of hire and the State of New York states as soon as possible “as employers may be liable for the actions of employees immediately upon hire”
What are the minimum training requirements?
- Sexual harassment training program shall be interactive and include: (6) (7)
- Explanation of sexual harassment & examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment
- Statement that sexual harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination under state and federal law
- Information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment
- Information concerning employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints
- 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 United States equal employment opportunity commission, including contact information
- Specific responsibilities of managerial employees in the prevention of sexual harassment and retaliation, and measures that such employees may take to appropriately address sexual harassment complaints
- The prohibition of retaliation with examples
- Information regarding bystander intervention, including resources on how to do so
- Any one of the examples below would meet the minimum requirement for an eLearning course to be considered interactive:
- Has questions at the end of a section and the employee must select the right answer
- Employees have an option to submit a question online and receive an answer immediately or in a timely manner
- Training provides a Feedback Survey for employees after they have completed the training
- Employers must keep a record of all trainings, including a signed employee acknowledgement. This may be done electronically
- New York City Employers do not need separate New York State training so long as the training meets the New York City requirements
- There is no minimum amount of training time so long as the training meets the minimum standards required
- Separate training is not required for supervisors and employees but employee training must address conduct by supervisors and any additional responsibilities for such supervisors
- Employers are expected to provide employees with training in the language spoken by their employees
- On January 18, 2018, New York State Budget was committed containing the sexual harassment training requirements (S07507 – NY State Budget, Park KK, Subpart E, Section 2), with effect October 9, 2018. These training requirements amended Article 7, Section 201-g of the Labor Law. On May 9, 2018, New York City signed the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act Local Law 96 of 2018 with effect April 1, 2019 outlining New York City’s sexual harassment training requirements. These training requirements amended New York City Administrative Code, Title 8, Chapter 1, Section 8-107 Subdivision 30. On August 12, 2019 A08421 was signed into clarifying the legal standard for what can be considered sexual harassment under New York State law and requiring that employees must receive at the time of each training both the company’s sexual harassment policy and information about the contents of the course. New York State published a Combating Sexual Harassment: Frequently Asked Questions and New York City published Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act Frequently Asked Questions.
- New York City requires sexual harassment training for companies with 15 or more employees. Given New York State training requirements apply to companies in New York City, every employee must also be trained in New York City.
- Employment Agencies such as placement firms or unions can provide training to members, but it is the responsibility of the employer to confirm the training is complete and meets the standards outlined by the law.
- According to the State of New York, Employees include all workers, regardless of immigration status, exempt or non-exempt employees, part-time workers, seasonal workers, temporary workers, and minors; Employees who are not based in New York but do any work in the state must be trained. Employees working outside of the state of New York do not need to be trained. New York City Employees includes all employees, including interns and any short-term workers who work over 80 hours in a calendar year and for at least 90 days, and independent contractors are required to be trained. In addition, if an employee is based elsewhere but regularly interacts with other employees in New York City, even if they are not physically present in the City, they should be trained.
- If a new employee has been trained at a previous employer and was trained in compliance with the regulations outlined in the State Budget, then they will not have to be retrained within the same calendar year (e.g. piggy-backing is allowed).
- The State of New York states that a sexual harassment training program “shall be interactive and include: (i) an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the department in consultation with the division of human rights; examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment; (iii) information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment; and (iv) information concerning employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints” and that “any third-party training to ensure it meets or exceeds the minimum standards required under the law”.
- New York City states that sexual harassment training “shall include, but need not be limited to, the following: (1) An explanation of sexual harassment as a form of unlawful discrimination under local law; (2) A statement that sexual harassment is also a form of unlawful discrimination under state and federal law; (3) A description of what sexual harassment is, using examples; (4) Any internal complaint process available to employees through their employer to address sexual harassment claims; (5) The complaint process available through the commission, the division of human rights and the United States equal employment opportunity commission, including contact information; (6) The prohibition of retaliation, pursuant to subdivision 7 of section 8-107, and examples thereof; and (7) Information concerning bystander intervention, including but not limited to any resources that explain how to engage in bystander intervention. (8) 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”