New York Sexual Harassment Training—When Do You Need It?

New York Sexual Harassment Training—When Do You Need It?

If you’re a small business owner, you don’t want to do anything that could jeopardize your legal standing. If you’re a small business owner in New York City, it’s extremely easy to jeopardize your legal standing. How do you balance those two problems? Reading random articles on the internet? Probably not the best way, but hey, who am I to tell you what to do.

Ensuring Compliance

The governments of New York City and New York state each offer an example “model” training course that can be used to train your employees. They’re both fully compliant with both jurisdictions’ requirements—you can use the state’s training even in the more restrictive city.

There are also plenty of New York harassment training commercial products available. Most of these are also compliant with both city and state guidelines for employee training materials. Check around, of course, and make sure they have the ability to save files for several years and the ability for employees to offer feedback.

But before you choose any product for compliance, you should be sure to understand all the rules, both for the material you need and how you ought to use it.

New York City Law

Sexual harassment training in New York City has nine requirements. These include making sure to use examples, discussing bystander intervention and retaliation, and informing people that sexual harassment is considered a form of discrimination in New York City, New York state, and the entire United States.

Companies are only required to offer sexual harassment training if they have at least fifteen employees in a calendar year. This includes part-time workers, interns, and even independent contractors. However, people who are employed at different points during the year do not both count towards the total. If you have fourteen employees, and then you fire one, and then you hire a different person, your total is still fourteen, not fifteen.

If the employee—for example, an independent contractor, or an intern—works fewer than 80 hours or 90 days in a year, they are still counted towards the total of fifteen, but they aren’t required to take the training. You still must provide training to your other employees.

Employees only need to be trained once during a calendar year, so if they have been trained at a different work location, they will not need to be trained at yours. However, they must offer proof that they have been trained, and the employer is responsible for keeping documentation of training for all employees, whether trained at that business or elsewhere.

Yet another requirement is that employers need to keep records of training each employee for three years. I’m sure there are many small businesses with overflowing file folders for every employee, including records ten years old for employees who haven’t worked with them for five, because they forgot to ever throw any out.

Employers based in New York City must give the training to their employees, even if the employees are remote workers—or working at a second location that is not in New York City.

The law in New York City is complex, to say the least. This website offers a further explanation of it, since you’re probably pretty confused here.

New York Sexual Harassment Training—When Do You Need It?

New York State Law

The state also has six requirements for training materials, separate from the rules in the city. These include that the materials must be interactive and must include examples. These rules also contain three more features that are recommended but not required: it should be web-based and ask questions, allow employees to ask questions in return, and require feedback at the end.

As in New York City, the state law also requires that employees must be trained once a year. Additionally, their policies state that the employer should include the internal processes for reporting harassment within the company and industry-relevant information, so each company may need to customize their training materials somewhat.

The training is required to be available in the employee’s native language if their native language is any of these: Bengali, Chinese, Haitian-Creole, Italian, Korean, Polish, Russian, or Spanish. It’s recommended to make it available in other languages than these, if they are your employees’ first language, but it’s not required.

Let’s use the example of everybody’s favorite mascot: This training, although interactive, is not online, and does not appear to be repeated yearly. It’s also not repeatable, although it is customized to the industry.

This particular training program seems to be only available in English, but that’s the first language of everyone present in the example, so that’s acceptable. However, rather than explaining any internal processes of the organization, this example’s presentation only explains all applicable laws, which are important, but not enough by themselves. See how important it is to understand every requirement?


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