CLIENT UPDATE

Putney, Twombly, Hall & Hirson LLP
521 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10175
Tel: (212) 682-0020

 

May 23, 2018

New York City and New York State Stop Sexual Harassment Act –Timing and Requirements

  1. When does the “interactive training” requirement take effect? How often must the training be conducted?

The Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act (“the Act”) contains various parts that go into effect at different times.

Effective May 9, 2018:

  • Claims of gender-based harassment under the New York City Human Rights Law may be brought by employees regardless of the size of the employer.
  • The statute of limitations for filing sexual harassment complaints with the NYC Commission on Human Rights (“the Commission”) is extended from one year to three years.

Effective July 8, 2018:

  • Contractors with New York City must include their practices, policies, and procedures “related to preventing and addressing sexual harassment” in an existing employment report required for certain contracts pursuant to the City Charter and corresponding rules.

Effective September 6, 2018:

  • All employers will be required to conspicuously display an anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities poster, created by the Commission, in both English and Spanish.

Effective April 1, 2019:

  • An “interactive training” is required for employers with 15 or more employees. The training must be conducted annually for all employees who work in New York City for more than 80 hours in a calendar year and perform work on a full- or part-time basis, including interns, supervisors, and managers. The training must also be conducted 90 days after the initial hiring of employees.

 

  1. What is required to satisfy the “interactive training” requirement?

The Act defines “interactive training” as a participatory training in which the trainee is involved in an interaction with the trainer. The training is not required to be live or facilitated by an in-person instructor to meet the “interactive” requirement. Instead, employers may use audio-visuals, computer, or online training programs, or other participatory forms of training. The Commission will determine what training programs satisfy the “interactive” requirement.

In addition to the “interactive” requirement for the training, the Act provides a list of required content that the training must discuss. The content of the training must include the following:

  • An explanation of sexual harassment as a form of unlawful discrimination under New York City law;
  • A statement that sexual harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination under New York State law and federal law;
  • A description of what sexual harassment is, using examples;
  • Any internal complaint process available to employees through their employer to address sexual harassment claims;
  • The complaint process available through the Commission, the New York City Division of Human Rights and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and contact information for each;
  • A description of the prohibition of retaliation pursuant to New York City Human Rights Law 8-107(7), using examples;
  • Information concerning bystander intervention, including resources on how to engage in bystander intervention; and
  • The specific responsibilities of supervisors and managers in preventing sexual harassment and retaliation, and measures they may take to address sexual harassment complaints.
  1. What is the New York State sexual harassment training and policy requirement?

 

New York State passed new legislation which focuses on addressing workplace sexual harassment. The new legislation includes a training requirement similar to the one required in the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act.

Effective October 9, 2018, New York State employers with four or more employees must adopt a sexual harassment prevention training program and provide this training annually to all employees. Similar to the New York City law, the training must be “interactive.” However, the New York State law does not define what “interactive training” entails.


 

The training must include the following:

  • An explanation of sexual harassment consistent with the Department of Law and New York State Division of Human Rights definition;
  • Examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment;
  • Information about the federal and state laws concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims; and
  • Information about employees of their right of redress and all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially.

 

Also effective October 9, 2018, all New York State employers are required to adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy.

  1. What protocol should employers follow to ensure compliance with the new requirement?

While the requirements between the State and City interactive training are similar, the State training requirement goes into effect earlier and the requirements differ as to the substantive content required for the training. Employers with sexual harassment training programs currently in place should review their programs and make any changes necessary to comply with the new State and City requirements. If an employer does not currently have such a program, they should create a sexual harassment training program that complies with the State and City requirements.

To ensure compliance with the “interactive training” requirement, we advise employers to annually host a workplace-wide sexual harassment training that meets the interactive and content requirements as established by the State and City laws. We advise that employers plan and conduct the training annually on or before the same date each year. As required by the City law, employers should maintain records of every training and have all employees who complete the training sign an employee acknowledgement, in writing or electronically, after each training. Employers must also maintain records these records for at least three years.

For newly hired employees, we advise that employers have these employees complete the training as soon as possible after 90 days of employment. After this initial training, the employees should complete the training annually at the same time as all other employees. If the annual training is conducted live or with an in-person instructor, we advise that employers make a recording of the entire training so that it can be shown to newly hired employees throughout the year.

Employers may also need to revise their existing anti-sexual harassment policies, or to adopt a new written policy if one is not already in place. Employers should consult with us about their anti-sexual harassment policies to ensure compliance with the new State law.

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