It is hard to believe that 2021 is soon coming to an end. In the chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, certain tasks have been pushed to the side in favor of pandemic-related matters, such as reopening businesses and keeping employees safe. Despite this, employers cannot ignore state-specific requirements separate from COVID-19, such as mandatory sexual harassment training.
In both New York State and New York City, new laws requiring sexual harassment training were enacted in 2018. Although New York City’s law is only applicable to employers with 15 or more employees, the state law applies to all employers, including those in the city. Despite the shift to remote working due to the Coronavirus pandemic crisis, this requirement remains in force.
According to New York State law, section 201-g of the New York Labor Law requires employers to apply preventative measures in order to prevent sexual harassment, as well as to conduct annual sexual harassment training for their employees. In 2018, the State drafted a model policy and training program. In order to be compliant with the law, employers must either adopt those policies or adopt one that meets or exceeds the minimum standards set by the model policies.
In order to satisfy the law’s requirements, the State’s model sexual harassment training is required to be interactive and to cover the following:
Each employer is required to provide its employees with a copy of its sexual harassment policy and training materials in English and their primary language if the State offers those translations. Training materials can be provided electronically, according to Department of Labor Q&As.
Similar training requirements are set for annual sexual harassment training under an amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL). The local law, now codified at N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(30), defines more precisely “interactive training.”
Training could be conducted in person or by teleconference between trainers and trainees. Participatory computer programs are another option for training that does not directly involve instructors. Training should extend beyond just watching videos.
According to New York City’s law, sexual harassment training must include the same four elements as in state law. This law also adds the following points:
DHR was required by law to develop a model training program by October 9, 2018. After that date, employers had one year to conduct their first sexual harassment training. Each employee must have received training within the past year. According to New York City law, covered employers must conduct training by December 31, 2019, and every subsequent year until the law expires. Remote work or any other contingencies arising from 2020’s challenges were not included in either law.
The Law Office of David H Rosenberg, one of the leading New York City sexual harassment law firms, represents workers in claims for discrimination and harassment under federal, state, and city discrimination laws. If you would like a free, confidential consultation regarding your situation, please contact us online or call 516-741-0300 today.