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Following the #MeToo Movement: New York City Mandates Sexual Harassment Training

By Leah Kessler

Last year, New York State and New York City made groundbreaking expansions to the sexual harassment provisions of several state and city statutes and regulations, which we blogged about here.  In doing so, New York has increased the safety of men and women in the workplace.  This is an important task, as there are approximately 321,500 cases of rape and sexual assault reported annually in the U.S.—a number far less than the projected actual number, as victims are often too afraid to report their experiences.  These laws are an important step forward, effectively holding employers and companies to a higher standard to improve the workplace, especially for the over 74 million women in the labor force today.

In May 2018, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act—comprehensive legislation aimed at addressing and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.  Notably, this act expands the City Human Rights Law in cases of gender-based harassment by increasing the statute of limitations to bring claims to the New York City Commission on Human Rights from one- to three-years, regardless of the size of their employer.  In addition, it requires all employers in the City to display anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities in both English and Spanish.  Employers are also required to post a mandatory notice provided by the New York City Commission on Human Rights as well as a mandatory notice to all new hires. (The notices are found here and here, respectively.) Employers must already be in compliance with these posting requirements.

Moreover, beginning April 1, 2019, New York City employers with 15 or more employees will be required to hold interactive sexual harassment trainings (which must be completed by October 9, 2019).  This new harassment training requirement accompanied a separate mandate under N.Y. Lab. Law 201-g that New York employers adopt a sexual harassment policy that meets or exceeds the standards of the state’s model policy.  Requirements under New York State law include, but are not limited to, an explanation of sexual harassment as a form of unlawful discrimination under local law; a statement that sexual harassment is also a form of unlawful discrimination under state and federal law; and a description of what sexual harassment is, using examples.  Employers must also include a specific explanation on the responsibilities of managers and supervisors and their role in reporting sexual harassment, and information regarding bystander intervention during sexual harassment situations.  For a full list of requirements, visit this New York City Human Rights Site.

These trainings are not solely for full-time employees. Employers must train all independent contractors and part-time and short-term employees who work for the employer more than 90 days and more than 80 hours in a calendar year.  These training are annual and must be completed every calendar year, ensuring that all employees are educated and up-to-date on the topic of sexual harassment in the workplace.

The Harman Firm, LLP, is please about these new laws, as it is important for employers and employees alike to be educated on the topic of sexual harassment and gender discrimination.  In order to help facilitate and improve compliance with these new laws, The Harman Firm, LLP, is offering sexual harassment trainings.

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