After the Hollywood producer Henry Weinstein case of 2017 sparking the #MeToo movement, many governments and companies began to revise their policies around harassment.
On August 12, 2019, New York Governor Cuomo signed a package of anti-discrimination and anti-harassment measures (AO8421), which have greatly changed the laws for the New York State harassment training requirements. Every employer is now required to provide employees and supervisors with annual sexual harassment training in New York State and New York City. Depending on where your company is located, you need to understand the differences between the city and state laws. For example, if your business is in New York City, then you need to comply with all requirements at the state and city level.
You as a business you need to use an up-to-date harassment prevention program that keeps you in compliance with the law. Failing to obey all the little pieces of these new ever-changing laws could result in massive lawsuits, negative publicity, and hefty compliance fines
In this guide you will discover:
- The exact New York State level harassment laws your business has to comply with
- How the New York City laws vary
- When the training is due
- Who has to take the training
- What requirements does the training have to meet
- Record-keeping practices and laws
- How to legally protect your company from a lawsuit
First, let’s start with the New York State level laws your company must comply with.
New York State Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Requirements
Every employer in New York or that has employees working in the state is required to provide approved sexual harassment prevention training regardless of their size.
The training has specific requirements for what your company's sexual harassment training has to have.
These conditions are constantly changing, so use these as a rough guideline. Your best bet is to use a sexual harassment training company
that is always up to date and exceeds the requirements of the newest laws such as EasyLlama.
New York State model training requirements:
- An explanation of sexual harassment is with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in that also complies with the New York State Division of Human Rights.
- The employer's sexual harassment policy has to be in line with the New York State's requirements.
- Included examples of unlawful sexual harassment.
- Information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions on sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment.
- Employees’ rights of redress and all available court forums for adjudicating complaints.
- Educate employees on what constitutes harassment in NY
- Appropriate behavior and processes of supervisors and their responsibilities.
New York State Training Must Be Interactive
It doesn’t matter if your training is online or in person, the final guidance for New York State law says that it has to be “interactive”.
This means that employees must have participation by doing the following:
- Select the correct answers during a test
- Be able to ask a question and get an answer in a timely manner
- Give the employee a feedback survey after they complete the training
Be careful with companies that only provide training videos or simple documents to read. A lesson plan with no questions or way to submit feedback is not compliant with the law.
EasyLlama is fully interactive by using tests, answering questions and asking for feedback at the end. Additionally, our tests don't just cover sexual harassment, they go over all forms, including discrimination and retaliation. The training is fully online and accessible on phones, tablets or computers. The lessons are complete with in-depth progress tracking and email/text reminders to ensure New York employees finish their tests on time.
Frequency and Due Date for New York State Training
Who Has to Take the New York State Training?
The Definition of a New York State employee is any worker regardless of their immigration status. It doesn’t matter if the employee is exempt, non-except, part-time, seasonal, an intern, temporary, or a freelancer. Everyone has to take the training if they interact with New York employees, even if they are remote workers.
In some cases, children are required to take the sexual harassment training for industries where minors are allowed to work, such as professional acting. However, employers that hire children under the age of 14 may choose to simplify the harassment training, while still meeting state requirements.
Organizations such as agencies or unions can choose to provide workers with training, but it's not required. This doesn’t change the fact that employers in New York may still be liable for a worker’s behavior. It’s the New York employer's responsibility to make sure they are trained on government harassment policies as well as the company's.
Government Contractors, Vendors, and Consultants
Private companies who provide goods to the New York State government or state agencies by bidding on contracts must certify that they have a sexual harassment policy before doing business. In addition, they also have to provide sexual harassment prevention training or else they could be fined, even if their employees are out of state.
To be compliant, the contractor bid also has to state specifically, “By submission of this bid, each bidder and each person signing on behalf of any bidder certifies, and in the case of a joint bid each party there to certify as to its own organization, under penalty of perjury, that the bidder has and has implemented a written policy addressing sexual harassment prevention in the workplace and provides annual sexual harassment prevention training to all of its employees.”
On February 8th, 2020, the New York State Human Rights Law (NYHRL)
started applying to all employers based in the state. The new law gave legal liability to businesses for the behavior of freelancers, contractors, subcontractors, vendors, or even outside consultants to the New York employer. Basically, if your company is doing any sort of business with employers in New York State, you have to provide proof of the harassment training. This is good because it spreads the responsibility of preventing sexual harassment, however, it can be scary to know you are liable if the vendor or company you are working with doesn’t have the most up-to-date training. Employers must make sure that their independent contractors, freelancers, vendors, and consultants use a modern up to date sexual harassment training company such as EasyLlama.
What About New Hires?
The New York State final guidance suggests that employers must train new employees as soon as possible. This is because they are legally liable for the behavior of their employees.
If a new employee can prove that they took the proper up-to-date training through a previous employer, then they won’t have to do it again until their annual due date.
Businesses are not required by law (yet) to keep signed copies of acknowledgment forms for harassment policies. However, the business has to provide proof that the employee had the proper training. We recommend you keep all records of employee acknowledgment forms in case the company gets taken to court. EasyLlama goes above and beyond by providing each employee that completed the online training a certificate of completion to download instantly. This will help legally protect the employer.
After ensuring that your company is compliant with New York State, if your company is in New York City, you have to check their specific regulations, which can vary slightly.
New York City Sexual Harassment Training Requirements
Sexual harassment model training needs to include:
- An explanation of sexual harassment as a form of unlawful discrimination under New York Human Rights Law, as well as the state and federal sexual harassment requirement laws.
- A description of what sexual harassment is, along with examples of behavior.
- How to engage in bystander intervention
- Information about the internal complaint process available to employees around harassment.
- The complaint processes available through the New York City Commission on Human Rights, the New York State Division of Human Rights, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as their contact information.
- Retaliation and why it's prohibited under the law complete with examples of activities that are protected against this behavior.
- The specific responsibilities of supervisors and managers to prevent sexual harassment and retaliation. This also includes measures they may take to address employees’ sexual harassment complaints appropriately.
- A signed acknowledgment form confirming that each employee has completed the training.
- A written sexual harassment prevention notice at the time of hire
The harassment training also has to be interactive on the city level and defined as “participatory” according to New York City Law. This includes the same state requirements on what interactivity is. The program must ask questions, be answered in a timely manner, and require feedback from trainees after completion.
Training Due Date and Frequency?
The Stop Sexual Harassment in New York City Act
states that all employers who have 15+ employees must provide annual proof of proper sexual harassment training by the end of the year on December 31st. If an employee took the test already, then they have to do it before their annual due date. Training has to be provided once every calendar year, similar to the state level.
Who Has to Take the Training?
The New York City harassment training has to be completed by the whole workforce including employees, interns, freelancers, remote workers, and contractors if they work:
- Over 80 hours during the year as well as
- 90 days or more over the same year
Employers that work with government contractors are not legally responsible for providing them harassment training on the city level. However, they have to have to describe their harassment prevention policies before working with the New York City employer.
What About New Hires?
The New York City law states that employees must be trained after their probationary period of 90 days. However, the state-level law says that companies are legally liable for the behavior of their workforce immediately on hire, so keep that in mind. This isn't just for employees, it applies to freelancers, interns, or contractors as well.
New employees must receive a written sexual harassment prevention notice when they’re hired and every time they complete their annual training.
The notice must include:
- The company sexual harassment prevention policy
- All information showed in the employer’s chosen sexual harassment training program
Unlike on the state level, employers are required to keep a record of all signed employee acknowledgment forms around company policies on harassment prevention. These records need to be kept on file and ready for commission inspection for at least three years at the time of writing this article in case of a lawsuit.
Get Legally Protected
The old law stated that victims of sexual harassment had a one-year timeframe to file a lawsuit against an employer. As of August 12, 2020, that timeframe is being extended to three years. As an HR representative or business owner in New York, you are more liable than ever before in history.
What complicates matters more is that the sexual harassment laws have literally changed 5 times between August 12, 2019, to the same date in 2020. All the changing laws and the threat of legal liability make choosing a trustworthy harassment training company extremely important. Don’t worry about reading the most up-to-date law books, just use EasyLlama and protect the business from getting sued, fined or negative publicity.