Sexual Harassment Training Laws in New York City

Since the introduction of the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC laws in 2018, legal obligations for employers in New York City have become more stringent. The New York State and City guidance and legal requirements have subsequently been updated in 2019 and 2020 and all NYC employers must be aware of their responsibilities about this legislation. In this article, we will take a look at the legal requirements for employers when arranging sexual harassment training, particularly outlining what has changed with the introduction of the new legislation and guidance.

New York Sexual Harassment Training Laws

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a very serious issue and one that employers cannot afford to ignore. With the updated guidance from New York City and New York State legislators, it is even more important that organizations are prepared and ready to meet legal requirements.

What has changed?

Harassment is never acceptable, in or out of the workplace. In 2018, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC, a legislative package that was signed into law. This package expanded the protections already afforded to victims of workplace sexual and gender-based harassment, including an expansion of the statute of limitations in harassment cases (from one to three years) and offering protection to employees regardless of the size of their organization.

The new law also increased legal obligations for employers, which means organizations must stay up-to-date with training obligations that are required by law and make provisions to fulfill these training responsibilities.

How does this affect employers?

The new legislation means that organizations have specific obligations concerning sexual harassment prevention training. These are extensions to the requirements of New York State.

There are also specific sexual harassment training requirements as to the content:

If organizations fail to fulfill their legal obligations on training, they may be subject to penalties, including fines, legal charges, and imprisonment.

How do I follow the new training laws?

Employers are now legally required to provide annual training for employees.

The training can be in-person or online, and either outsourced or developed in-house. However, there are requirements as to what it must include, for example explaining what harassment is (with examples); explaining that it is unlawful discrimination under local, New York state, and federal law; outlining the internal and external complaint procedures; providing information on bystander intervention; and demonstrating the responsibilities of supervisors and management. Every organization should make sure they are aware of specific training responsibilities to avoid penalties.