Sexual Harassment Training: Are You Meeting Your State’s Requirements?

by John Calderon on August 10, 2020

As American society faces a new reckoning around the subject of discrimination and harassment, government bodies are looking for ways to remedy these problems with legislation. One such topic being addressed by state and local laws in the wake of the #MeToo movement is sexual harassment training, with several states and one major city enacting policies that require employers to ensure their employees are getting this important education and training.

The current states and one city that have sexual harassment training laws are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, New York, and New York City. But even if your organization’s state or governing body does not have a policy on the books, you may be leaving yourself open to legal liability if you neglect to train your employees adequately. In addition to responding quickly to investigate any claims of sexual harassment, your organization can further limit legal claims of negligence by an employee, and, more importantly, incidences of sexual harassment in general if you are deliberate with your sexual harassment training before an incident occurs. 

Assume that your employees are not entirely aware of what constitutes sexual harassment. It’s best not to leave it up to someone’s judgment. Sexual harassment training spells out in no uncertain terms what kind of behavior constitutes sexual harassment and is thus unacceptable. It also gives HR the opportunity to educate supervisors and upper management on how to adequately protect their employees and trains them on the prosper steps for reporting claims of sexual harassment.

Even in the absence of a specific law, there are indirect consequences to a lack of adequate training, as well -- productivity can suffer if employees have been traumatized by working in a harassing environment, and the retention of a diverse, qualified workforce may also be impacted if the organization is seen as having a toxic culture that enables or turns a blind eye to sexual harassment.

Best practice is to provide training at the following junctures: when employees are first hired during onboarding, before moving into a supervisory role, and annually. Leveraging a learning management system to host videos, assign tasks with due dates, and track completion is one way that you can ensure your employees are getting the training they need regardless of whether they are working in the office or remotely.

Current laws regarding sexual harassment training by state/locality (as of August 10, 2020):

 

State/Locality

Requirements

California

The Golden State’s sexual harassment training law went into effect on January 1, 2019, and states that employers with five or more employees -- including temporary or seasonal -- must provide at least two hours of training to supervisors and at least one hour to non-supervisors once every two years.

Connecticut

Requirements are especially pressing for Connecticut right now, as the Time’s Up Law, which was passed in 2019, states that all employers with three or more employees must provide at least two hours of training by October 1, 2020. Employees hired after October 1, 2020 must receive training within six months of their hired date.

Delaware

Delaware’s law impacts slightly larger organizations only, requiring employers with 50 or more employees to hold training within six months of their hired date and every six months after that. The law went into effect on January 1, 2019.

Illinois

The state’s Department of Human Rights finalized a standard sexual harassment training program in July 2020 which all employers with 15 or more employees will use, unless they can prove that their own training meets or exceeds the minimum standard set forth by the department. Training will be required once a year. 

Maine

The first such law to be enacted back in 2017, Maine’s sexual harassment training requirement states that employers with 15 or more employees must use a checklist created by the Maine Department of Labor to develop a training program that must be given to each employee within a year of their hired date.

New York

The Empire State requires that all employers, regardless of size, must provide training as soon as possible after the start date that explains sexual harassment, examples of poor conduct, and ways that employees can report sexual harassment.

New York City

In addition to New York State’s law, employers with 15 or more employees in the Big Apple must also train all employees within 90 days of their hired date. Beyond the scope of the state’s law, the New York City law also mandates that bystander intervention and the role of supervisors and managers in preventing sexual harassment must also be covered.

 

Interested in finding out how Learn can make the sexual harassment training process easy and effective? Request a demo today to find out more.

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John Calderon

John Calderon is the Content Strategist at NEOGOV. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of California, Los Angeles and has spent over a decade creating content as a marketing professional and journalist. Contact John: jcalderon@neogov.net