In the last two weeks, New York state and city legislatures each passed groundbreaking legislation that would require most private employers to provide sexual harassment training to their workforces every year. No other US jurisdiction requires annual harassment training for all employees, making this legislation – if signed into law – the most expansive in the country. (California requires training for supervisors and managers only, see more HERE.)
Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act
On April 11, 2018, the New York City Council enacted the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act, a package of legislation aimed at preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. Once signed by Mayor DeBlasio, one of the new laws requires private employers with 15 or more employees to conduct annual anti-sexual harassment training for all employees starting April 1, 2019. The training must be interactive (participatory) and cover the following topics:
- An explanation of sexual harassment as a form of unlawful discrimination under city, state and federal law;
- A description and examples of sexual harassment;
- The employer’s internal complaint process for sexual harassment claims;
- The complaint process available through the NYC Commission on Human Rights, the NYS Division of Human Rights and the EEOC, including contact information;
- The prohibition of retaliation and examples of retaliation; and
- Information concerning bystander intervention, including how to engage in bystander intervention.
Supervisors and managers must also be trained on their specific responsibilities in the prevention of sexual harassment and retaliation, and how to appropriately address sexual harassment complaints.
Training must be provided to new employees within 90 days of hire, unless the employee received training at another employer within the same training cycle, and once per cycle to all employees otherwise.
New York State Budget Bill
On March 30, 2018, the New York State Assembly passed a budget bill including a number of provisions aimed at sexual harassment, including a model sexual harassment policy and training program. The substantive training requirements are similar, but not identical, to the those required by the city law.
Specifically, the bill requires employers to provide interactive training covering the following to all employees annually:
- An explanation of sexual harassment consistent with state guidance;
- Examples of conduct that constitute unlawful sexual harassment;
- Information concerning federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims; and
- Information concerning employees’ rights and available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints.
The policy and training requirements will go into effect 180 days after the bill is signed into law. Beginning January 1, 2019, New York state contractors bidding on projects will also be required to certify under penalty of perjury that they have implemented compliant anti-sexual harassment policies and training programs.
Governor Cuomo and Mayor DeBlasio are expected to sign their respective bills in the coming days or weeks. In the meantime, contact your Baker McKenzie lawyer to discuss best practices for anti-sexual harassment policies and training programs that comply with the anticipated New York state and city laws.