Sexual harassment prevention training in the current professional landscape can often feel like reinventing the wheel — especially with remote workers in different states with different laws and regulations. In cases like New York, cities can have unique laws that don’t necessarily apply to the entire state.

That’s right: New York State’s sexual harassment training requirements aren’t the same as New York City’s. For example: a Brooklyn-based office might have different training requirements for its employees compared to its sister office in upstate New York.

In this article, we’ve rounded up our top FAQs related to New York’s sexual harassment training requirements. We’ll address each of them below — taking a closer look at what you need to know to get your team compliant in both NYC and NYS.

First thing’s first:

Which employers are subject to New York’s sexual harassment training laws?

Under New York law, the size and location of the employer are irrelevant: if you have employees working full-time, part-time, or even occasionally anywhere in the state of New York, you must comply with New York’s sexual harassment training laws. These laws are designed to address, resolve, and prevent harassment in the workplace.

Additionally, if you have employees working in New York City, you must also comply with the New York City Human Rights Law. Many of the requirements are similar — NYC law already takes state requirements regarding sexual harassment prevention into account — but there are some unique aspects to the NYC law that we need to cover.

The first requirement under New York State law is that every employee working in New York (full-time, part-time, exempt, non-exempt, seasonal, and temporary) must receive a sexual harassment “Notice” upon hiring and annually thereafter. This Notice is comprised of:

  • The employer’s Sexual Harassment Policy, and;
  • “Information presented” in the employer’s Sexual Harassment Training

You can use the Model Sexual Harassment Policy materials provided here by New York State, but you can also construct your own Notice with the model materials as a guide.

The NYC laws require the distribution of a “Factsheet,” which must be in both English and Spanish. Similar to New York State, you can find Model NYC resources here. There are also poster requirements under both NYS law and NYC law, including an NYC harassment training requirement that posters be in both English and Spanish.

Which language(s) does the sexual harassment training have to be in?

Employers in New York State are required to provide both their sexual harassment policy and training to employees in English and their primary language. Supported primary languages include Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Haitian-Creole, Bengali, and Italian.

New York City has no such requirement, but The Commission’s online training is available in ten languages and includes key accessibility elements for persons with disabilities who may have difficulty accessing online training.

How often do I need to conduct sexual harassment training in New York?

Employers must provide every employee working in New York with sexual harassment training initially upon hiring, and then once annually thereafter.

Do I need a sexual harassment policy?


This probably seems like a no-brainer since it goes hand-in-hand with training, but all employers with New York employees must use — and disseminate among their NY employees — New York’s model sexual harassment policy (or their own that meets the same requirements.)

A full list of those requirements can be found here.

How long does sexual harassment training have to be?

A standard question with a non-standard answer: there isn’t a time requirement for New York State or NYC training, although the model trainings for both New York State and City each take about 45 minutes to complete.

Should training be done all at once, once per year? 

When it comes to equipping your employees with the knowledge and tools they need to prevent harassment in the workplace, you may want to revisit the training — or break the training materials up into multiple courses or meetings. Studies have shown that having training that occurs regularly with “varied and dynamic” content — i.e. training that builds on previous lessons and engages learners directly — has a direct and positive effect on company culture. The EEOC’s recent task force reported as such:

[E]mployees understand that an organization’s devotion of time and resources to any effort reflects the organization’s commitment to that effort. Training is no different . . . If anti-harassment trainings are regularly scheduled events in which key information is reinforced, that will send the message that the goal of the training is important.

— EEOC, 2016, Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace

Of course, training once per year is the minimum requirement, but if you’re looking to really make a cultural difference when it comes to harassment prevention, we recommend training year-round.

Need sexual harassment training in New York? Here’s the trailer for Ethena’s course!

Which employees are required to train? What about new hires?

New York State requires that all employees who work in New York, even if it’s only for a portion of their work hours, receive training. New York law defines an “employee” as any worker, regardless of immigration status and regardless of whether they are full-time, part-time, exempt, non-exempt, seasonal, or temporary. Minors (e.g., child actors) are also required to take training, although some modifications might be permitted depending on age.

Employers subject to New York City laws are required to train all full-time employees as well as any part-time workers, independent contractors, interns and freelancers who have worked for more than 80 hours per year and at least 90 days.

In both instances, new hires should be trained “as soon as possible” after hire, but New York City employees who work more than 80 hours per year must have completed their training within 90 days of hire.

Am I required to keep any records?

On the state level, New York does not require employers to keep records of their sexual harassment prevention trainings, but the Department of Labor recommends employers keep training records for possible future complaints or lawsuits. (And honestly, so do we.)

New York City employers are required to keep records for three years minimum, however, and they must be made available for inspection by the New York City Commission on Human Rights at any time. These records must contain a signed acknowledgment of training by the employee, in print or electronic form.

But what should the training actually consist of and contain? Let’s take a look at what New York considers a successful training:

What does the training content need to contain?

Satisfactory sexual harassment prevention training must include:

A definition of sexual harassment

This feels like another no-brainer, which is why we’ve prioritized it first on this list. Both kinds of harassment, “quid pro quo” and “hostile environment,” must be clearly defined. In NYC, sexual harassment must also be defined as unlawful discrimination under NYC law. Both New York State and New York City model trainings provide these definitions for use.


Training must include examples of unlawful sexual harassment. As we mentioned above, finding industry-specific hypothetical scenarios relevant to your teams is an excellent way to turn bland training into an engaging learning experience. Examples should be used to facilitate interactivity: both NY Model trainings follow their example scenarios with questions for the audience. Learning how to apply lessons to real life scenarios is key for trainee success.

Federal and State provisions and remedies

Training should communicate the legal protections and governmental resources available for those who experience or witness sexual harassment.

Complaints and redress processes (internal and external)

Employees should know your organization’s formal complaint process (if there is one) as well as the process for filing a complaint externally with the most-relevant local or federal office (e.g. the NYC CHR, the NY DHR, and/or the EEOC).

Language on retaliation

This isn’t a state requirement, but NYC requires that trainers cover prohibition of retaliation and include examples on retaliation for speaking up. Regardless of requirements, both Model trainings cover retaliation, and you should too.

Bystander intervention

Anyone who rides the NYC subway knows the phrase, “If you see something, say something.”

Well, turns out it’s an equally helpful phrase for harassment prevention training. New York City sexual harassment prevention training must define, provide examples of, and instruct learners how to engage in bystander intervention when it concerns unlawful discrimination. It’s not required on the state level, but the Model training includes an entire section on encouraging bystander intervention.

A note on customization

Everyone in your organization should get the same training, but you can (and should) also personalize it to be relevant.

New York’s Department of Labor insists that training should be uniform, meaning that every employee should receive training consistent with everyone else on staff. Delivery can be somewhat flexible, but everyone should be learning from the same curriculum.

The DOL also suggests editing the example scenarios to fit your industry. Providing tangible, relatable examples for your staff will show you care about preventing harassment and help them retain more useful information.

The final word