Please note: This is not legal advice, nor does it contain every detail or requirement of the applicable laws: it is provided solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be relied upon. If you have questions about these laws, please consult your legal counsel.

Sexual harassment remains a pervasive issue in workplaces across the United States, prompting legislative action aimed at prevention and education. In New York, stringent requirements have been established to keep this problem at bay; resulting in mandated sexual harassment training for employees.

In this guide, we’ll explore into the specifics of these requirements, discuss their significance, and outline strategies for businesses to achieve compliance.

Let’s dive in.

Understanding New York’s legal landscape

Both New York City and New York State have launched comprehensive legislation addressing sexual harassment in the workplace. The New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) provide robust protections against sexual harassment and impose specific obligations on employers to prevent and address such misconduct.

In 2018, New York State enacted sweeping changes to its sexual harassment laws, which included mandatory sexual harassment prevention training for all employees. The law applies to all employers operating in the state, regardless of size, and requires annual training for all employees. Similarly, New York City passed legislation in 2018, amending the NYCHRL to mandate sexual harassment training for employees working within the city.

Why is sexual harassment training important?

Sexual harassment training plays a vital role in ensuring a safe and respectful work environment. Here are a few more reasons why it’s so important:

Legal compliance

Failure to comply with sexual harassment training requirements can result in severe consequences for employers, including fines and legal liabilities. By ensuring compliance, businesses mitigate the risk of costly litigation and reputational damage.

Awareness and prevention

Harassment prevention training empowers employees to recognize and prevent instances of sexual harassment in the workplace. It educates them about what constitutes harassment, how to report incidents, and the consequences for engaging in such behavior. Increased awareness helps create a culture of accountability and respect within the organization.

Inclusivity

Comprehensive sexual harassment training also emphasizes the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). It underscores the rights of all employees to work in environments free from harassment and discrimination, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristics.

Improving organizational culture

Investing in sexual harassment training demonstrates a commitment to fostering a positive organizational culture that prioritizes employee well-being and safety. It promotes trust and confidence among employees; leading to higher morale, productivity, and retention rates.

Sexual harassment training in New York: FAQs

In order to get compliant with sexual harassment training requirements in New York, you must adhere to specific guidelines regarding the content, delivery, and documentation of training sessions.

Who is required to provide sexual harassment training in New York?

In New York State, all employers (regardless of size) are required to provide sexual harassment training to all employees and/or supervisors.

Similarly, New York City passed legislation in 2018, amending the NYCHRL to mandate sexual harassment training for all employees working within the city.

What does sexual harassment training in New York have to include?

New York sexual harassment training must cover a range of topics outlined in both state and city laws, including:

  • The definition of sexual harassment under federal, state, and local laws
  • Examples of conduct that constitutes sexual harassment
  • The employer’s internal complaint process for reporting harassment
  • The legal remedies and protections available to employees who experience harassment
  • The responsibilities of supervisors and managers in preventing and addressing sexual harassment.
  • Retaliation protections for employees who report harassment

Training sessions need to be interactive and include opportunities for discussion and questions. They can be conducted in various formats, including in-person sessions, webinars, or online courses.

How often is sexual harassment training required in New York?

Employees in New York must undergo refresher sexual harassment training annually.

Am I required to keep any documentation?

Yes. You’re required to maintain records documenting employees’ compliance with sexual harassment training requirements. This includes keeping records of who attended training sessions, when training occurred, and the content covered during training. Records must be retained for at least three years and made available for inspection by the New York State Division of Human Rights or the New York City Commission on Human Rights upon request.

How to comply with New York’s sexual harassment requirements

Achieving compliance with sexual harassment training requirements involves several key steps:

1. Understand legal obligations

Employers must familiarize themselves with the specific requirements outlined in both New York State and New York City laws. This includes knowing who must receive training, the frequency of training, and the content that must be covered.

2. Develop comprehensive training programs

Organizations should develop or procure sexual harassment training programs that meet the statutory requirements. Training content should be tailored to address relevant legal standards, cultural considerations, and industry-specific nuances.

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3. Ensure accessibility and interactivity

Training should be accessible to all employees, including those with disabilities or language barriers. Employers may need to provide accommodations or offer training in multiple languages to accommodate diverse workforces. Additionally, training programs should be engaging, interactive, and effectively convey key concepts to participants.

4. Document training efforts

Employers are required to maintain records documenting their compliance with sexual harassment training requirements. This includes keeping records of who received training, when training occurred, and the content covered during training sessions. Robust record-keeping practices help demonstrate compliance and facilitate accountability.

5. Monitor and evaluate compliance

Regularly assess the effectiveness of sexual harassment training programs and adjust them as needed. Solicit feedback from employees to identify areas for improvement and ensure that training remains relevant and impactful.

6. Stay informed and updated

Sexual harassment laws and training requirements may evolve over time, necessitating ongoing education and awareness. Employers should stay informed about legislative changes, court decisions, and best practices related to sexual harassment prevention.

The final word

Sexual harassment training is more than just a legal requirement. It’s a critical component of building and maintaining a respectful, inclusive workplace. Employers in New York City and New York State must prioritize compliance with statutory training requirements to reduce legal risks, promote employee well-being, and uphold business values.

By investing in comprehensive training programs (like Ethena!), documenting training efforts, and emphasizing accountability, we can all create safer, more supportive spaces for New York employees.