New York State and New York City employers must complete their annual anti-harassment training obligations. Training must be conducted once per year, which can be measured by calendar year, anniversary of hire, or any other date the employer chooses. Below is a brief synopsis of the training requirements.
New York State: All employers in New York State must provide annual anti-harassment training to all full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees. The training must (i) be interactive; (ii) define and provide examples of conduct that constitutes unlawful sexual harassment; (iii) describe remedies available to victims of sexual harassment under state and federal statutory provisions; (iv) include information concerning employees' rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints; and (v) describe supervisors' responsibilities with respect to sexual harassment.
New York City: All employers with 15 or more employees must provide annual interactive training for most full-time and part-time employees, interns, and independent contractors. The training must include, at a minimum, (i) an explanation that sexual harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination under federal, state, and local law; (ii) a description of sexual harassment, using examples; (iii) the employer's internal complaint process; (iv) a description of external remedies; (v) an anti-retaliation statement; (vi) information on bystander intervention; and (vii) a statement of the specific responsibilities of supervisory and managerial employees to prevent sexual harassment and retaliation, and address sexual harassment complaints.
While online training videos are available, employers are reminded that the training also includes required components that are particular to their own internal policies, and therefore all training must be customized to address their specific practices. Employers may also want to consider including information on the concerns surrounding harassment/discrimination in the new virtual world in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Employers are responsible for ensuring that all covered employees receive the training. Failure to comply with this training obligation can result in monetary fines, misdemeanor charges, and the inability to assert helpful defenses in a harassment or discrimination lawsuit brought by an employee, including that an employee failed to follow the applicable policy and take advantage of the available internal redress for a complaint. If you have any questions about the annual anti-harassment training requirements or how to conduct effective training, please feel free to reach out to the authors of this alert or any other attorney in Venable's Labor and Employment Group.