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Per New York state law, almost all employers are required to provide their employees with access to sexual harassment prevention training to educated workers about abusive conduct and sexual harassment in the workplace. That said, there can be a lot to keep track of when adopting a training program for employees, and making sure that all the required topics are covered and within the state’s rules.
In this guide, we’ll cover which employers in the state are required to provide their employees with this training, the topics the program must present, and how often you need to offer it. We also cover additional rules to keep in mind if you’re an employer in New York City.
Why do most New York employers provide employees with sexual harassment prevention training?
Sexual harassment can a sensitive topic, but training employees helps to educate them and prevent incidents in the workplace by making workers aware of how their actions may affect their coworkers, as well as tips on how to avoid this behavior.
In addition, New York law also mandates that most employers must provide their employees access to training that there are rules on the type of content presented, and how it is shared with workers.
Let’s find out more about which employers are required to offer training.
Which employers are required to offer training?
All employers must provide employees with annual interactive sexual harassment prevention training in the state of New York. You may use the model sexual harassment prevention training program provided by the New York State Division of Human Rights (NYSDHR) and the New York Department of Labor (NYDOL), or establish a program that equals or exceeds standards set by them. Employers are not required to provide additional training to supervisors or managers.
What does training need to include?
- An explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the NYDOL and the NYSDHR and examples of conduct which is prohibited
- Information concerning federal and New York statutes on sexual harassment and any recourse available to victims of sexual harassment
- Information concerning employees’ rights and all available forums for adjudicating complaints
- Information addressing conduct by supervisors or any additional responsibility for such supervisors
According to the rules, training needs to be interactive. Online or in-person training is both allowed, but it may not consist of:
- only of watching a training video
- reading a document with no feedback mechanism or interaction
Do employers need to keep records of the training?
No signed acknowledgment of having read the policy is required, but employers are encouraged to keep a signed acknowledgment and retain a copy of training records. Records may be helpful in addressing any future complaints or lawsuits.
Next, let’s look at the additional requirements that apply to employers doing business in New York City.
Additional information about sexual harassment training requirements in New York City
In a nutshell, New York City employers with 15 or more employees, including contractors and interns, must comply with the New York State laws, but there are additional training requirements under the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act.
New York State law requires that employers of one or more employees must conduct sexual harassment prevention training for all employees each year.
Employers are annually required to train employees and are encouraged to train new employees as soon as possible. This applies to any employees who work more than 80 hours in a calendar year and work for at least 90 days.
Employers may provide their own training or can use the online training module developed by the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR), which is available on the agency’s website.
The training must include:
- A description of sexual harassment, with examples
- An explanation of sexual harassment as a form of unlawful discrimination under New York City law
- A statement that sexual harassment is also a form of unlawful discrimination under New York and federal law
- Any internal complaint process available to employees to address sexual harassment claims
- The complaint process available from the NYCCHR, the NYSDHR, and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, including contact information
- A statement that retaliation is prohibited and examples of retaliation
- Information regarding bystander intervention, including any resources explaining how to engage in bystander intervention
- The specific responsibilities of supervisory and managerial employees in preventing sexual harassment and retaliation; actions that supervisors and managers may take to appropriately address sexual harassment complaints
The training must be interactive, which means including participatory teaching that engages the trainee using:
- Trainer and trainee interaction
- The use of audio and visual aids
- A computer or online training program
Is recordkeeping the same for NYC employers?
Employers must keep a record of all training, including a signed employee acknowledgment (which may be in electronic form), for at least three years.
More resources for New York State employers
Understanding New York’s sexual harassment prevention training laws benefits employers and employees
By providing professional training to educate employees, New York employers are able to put safeguards in place to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and stay compliant with the law. Though there can be a lot to keep track of, many options exist to make it easy for a company to keep their workers up to date on what type of behavior is appropriate at work, and keep their employees and place of business safe and incident-free.