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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Employers - Watch out for Sexual Harassment Training Vendors Claiming to Be Compliant When They Are Not - Here is What You Need To Know

Employers who are seeking to purchase sexual harassment prevention training and policies in compliance with the new New York State and New York City sexual harassment laws must be mindful that some vendors are offering trainings that are not compliant with the new laws.

The New York State law (Section 201-g of the N.Y. Labor Law), which took effect on October 9, 2018, requires that all employers issue a sexual harassment prevention policy that meet minimum requirements including but not limited to establishing a procedure, specifically tailored to each individual employer, for timely investigation of all complaints and issuing a complaint form. 

Therefore - if a company is claiming they can offer a uniform training for any employee to take - be mindful that employers must have a sexual harassment prevention policy and complaint form that specifically shows the employee how to make a complaint and whom to make a complaint to and the information must be including in the training. In the NYS model training, it states: "The training should detail any internal process employees are encouraged to use to complain and include the contact information for the specific name(s) and office(s) with which employees alleging harassment should file their complaints."

The NYS law also requires annual training for all employees (and training for new employees within a reasonable time after hiring). The training must be interactive and must include; 1) an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor; 2) examples of conduct that constitute unlawful harassment; 3) information regarding the specific state and federal statutory provision concerning sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment; 4) information regarding employees' rights of redress and remedies available to victims; 5) information regarding conduct responsibilities of supervisors.

The New York City law (Local Law 96), effective April 1, 2019, requires employers with fifteen (15) or more employees to conduct annual training which must be interactive and must include, among other requirements, the employer's specific process for addressing sexual harassment complaints, information concerning bystander intervention and the specific responsibilities of managers and supervisors to address complaints of harassment. In addition, the NYC law requires that employers obtained signed acknowledgment from employees that they attended the training.

While not required, policies and trainings should also address other forms of harassment and discrimination (i.e. race and age), to minimize exposure to potential lawsuits against the employer.

It is imperative that employers choose a vendor who is offering trainings and policies in strict compliance to these new laws to avoid unnecessary penalties and exposure to lawsuits.

Lieb Compliance offers a fully compliant training package including a compliant sexual harassment prevention policy, complaint form and interactive training.

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