Sexual Harassment Prevention Employer Toolkit
This webinar will review the recent changes in the law and what they mean for employers across New York State.
Q1. What type of records must employers maintain to verify compliance?
A1. Employers are encouraged to keep a signed acknowledgment and to keep a copy of training records even though no signed acknowledgment of having read the policy is required. These records may be helpful in addressing any future complaints or lawsuits.
Q2. Does the law requiring all employers to establish a sexual prevention policy and annual training apply to New York City employers and does the mandated New York City training meet the training requirements of the New York State Law?
A2. Yes. The law applies to all employers in New York State, including New York City. The New York City Commission on Human Rights is partnered with NYS DHR and NYSDOL so New York City-based employers can comply with both the New York State and New York City training requirements by using the online training provided by the New York City Commission on Human Rights. New York City's online training is available here.
Q3. I run a family business where the only employees are my children and spouse. Why do we need to take the sexual harassment prevention training?
A3. Under New York State policy, employees are protected from harassment by third parties, including customers, clients, and constituents. Additionally, anyone that might do business with an employer such as outside vendors, independent contractors, and gig workers are protected from harassment and discrimination under the state policy. As an employer, it is essential to know your responsibilities should a third party engage in harassment while at your location. It is also essential for your employees, family or otherwise, to understand their rights should they experience harassment from a third party or individual conducting business at your workplace.
Q4. I’ve just hired a nanny for the first time. Are domestic workers covered by this policy, and do I need to adopt a prevention policy and annual training?
A4. Yes, domestic workers are covered by this policy and all employers, regardless of size-- including households employing one person as a nanny or housekeeper-- must adopt a prevention policy and provide an annual training. The model policy and training are available here [insert link] for families to use when hiring domestic workers.
Q1. Will New York State make resources available for training in languages other than English?
A1. Yes. Materials have been translated into Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Italian, Polish, Bengali, Urdu, French and Haitian-Creole and are available on this website (link to the translations page). Starting May 31, 2023, these languages will be expanded to include Japanese, Hindi, Albanian, and Greek.
Q2. Am I required to provide the notice, policy, and training in languages other than English?
A2. Yes. Employers must provide employees with these materials in both English and in an employee’s primary language if it is Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Haitian-Creole, Bengali, Urdu, French, or Italian. Starting May 31, 2023, these languages will be expanded to include Japanese, Hindi, Albanian, and Greek. Model templates are available online. However, as employers may be held liable for the conduct of all of their employees, employers are strongly encouraged to provide a policy and training in the language spoken by the employee.
Sexual Harassment Prevention Notice
Q1. Can the required sexual harassment prevention notice be delivered digitally?
A1. Yes. The notice must be delivered in writing, which includes in print or digitally (for example, via email). The notice must link to or include, as an attachment or printed copy, the policy and training materials.
Q2. What constitutes training materials as part of the notice?
A2. Training materials include any printed materials, scripts, FAQs, outlines, handouts, presentation slides, and more.
Q3. What if the training materials are delivered through software or video?
A3. If you are using the state’s model materials or other training materials available online, an electronic or printed copy, or a link to such materials is sufficient. In other instances, employers and training providers should make reasonable efforts to provide the information, including providing printouts or links to training materials, scripts, slides, or other materials.
Q4. What does "at the time of hiring" mean?
A4. It is recommended that the employer provides this notice prior to or at the beginning of an employee’s first day of work.
Q1. How can employers provide their policy to employees?
A1. Employers must provide employees with their policy in writing both at the time of hiring and during each annual training. This is done in the form of a notice that must also include sexual harassment prevention training materials. This may be done in print or electronically (for example, via email).
Q2. Is there any employer responsibility to train third-party vendors or other covered individuals who interact one-time or regularly in an office located in New York State?
A2. No. However, posting a copy of your policy in an area that is highly visible further communicates your effort as a responsible employer.
Q3. What should I do if a temporary employee is being harassed by an employee of another company?
A3. In such circumstances, you should inform both the company and the temporary employee’s firm. However, if you are able to take action in order to prevent or end such harassment you should do so, as outlined in the policy.
Q4. What policy, if any, must be provided to contractors, subcontractors, vendors, and consultants?
A4. Employers are not required to provide a policy to independent contractors, vendors, or consultants because individuals are not employees of the employer. However, under the New York State Human Rights Law the employer is responsible and can be liable for the actions of these workers while in the employer’s workplace. Employers are encouraged to provide the policy and training to anyone providing services in their workplace for that reason.
Q5. If an employer already has established investigative procedures which are similar, but not identical to those provided in the model policy, can the employer deviate from the model’s specific requirements and remain compliant with the law?
A5. Yes. However, the investigative procedures that the employer will be using should be outlined in the employer’s policy.
Q6. Does the complaint form need to be included, in full, in the policy?
A6. No. Employers should, however, be clear about where the form may be found, for example, on a company’s internal website.
Q1. Who is considered an Employee for the training requirement? And when does the training need to be completed?
A1. “Employee” includes all workers, regardless of immigration status. Employee also includes exempt or non-exempt employees, part-time workers, seasonal workers, and temporary workers.
Q2. How often must employees receive sexual harassment training?
A2. Employees must be trained at least once per year. This may be based on the calendar year, anniversary of each employee’s start date, or any other date the employer chooses.
Q3. How soon do new employees need to be trained?
A3. There is no requirement for training to take place within a particular amount of time. As employers may be liable for the actions of employees immediately upon hire, the state encourages training as soon as possible. Employers should distribute the policy to employees at the time of hiring as part of a notice, which also includes training materials.
Q4. Is there a minimum number of training hours employees must complete each year?
A4. No, as long as employees receive training that meets or exceeds the minimum standards, they have met the state’s requirements.
Q5. What are the obligations of employment agencies? What about employees who received the same training from another employer within the past year?
A5. The law requires that employers provide a sexual harassment prevention policy and training on an annual basis to all employees. If an employee can show they completed training within the same calendar year under a previous employer or temporary help agency, an employer may choose to deem the training requirement satisfied.
An agency or any other worker organization (e.g., a labor union) may choose to provide training to workers, however, the employer may still be responsible for the employee’s conduct and understanding of policies. Employers should train the employee on any nuances and processes specific to the company or industry.
Q6. I am an employer based in New York State but also have employees who work exclusively from an office in another state. Do they need to be trained as well?
A6. No. Only employees who work or will work in New York State need to be trained. However, if an individual works a portion of their time in New York State, even if they’re based in another state, they must be trained.
Q7. Are minor employees (e.g., child actors) required to take sexual harassment training?
A7. Yes. However, those employing children under the age of 14 may opt to simplify the training and policy while still meeting the minimum requirements.
Q8. What does “interactive training” mean?
A8. New York State law requires all sexual harassment training to be interactive. Training may be online, so long as it is interactive. Examples of employee participation include:
- If the training is web-based, it has questions at the end of a section and the employee must select the right answer;
- If the training is web-based, the employees have an option to submit a question online and receive an answer immediately or in a timely manner;
- In an in-person or live training, the presenter asks the employees questions or gives them time throughout the presentation to ask questions;
- Web-based or in-person trainings that provide a Feedback Survey for employees to turn in after they have completed the training
NOTE: Any one of the above examples would meet the minimum requirement for being interactive. An individual watching a training video or reading a document only, with no feedback mechanism or interaction, would NOT be considered interactive. The model training options offered by New York State and outlined in the Employer Toolkit on the Combating Sexual Harassment website meet the interactive requirement.
Q9. Is a live trainer required and does a trainer need to have a certification?
A9. No. While a good option for effective and engaging trainings, a live trainer is not required. Live trainers may appear in person or via phone, video conference, etc.
No certification is required for a live trainer and the state does not currently certify or license training providers.
Q10. May I use a third-party vendor to provide training? How do I ensure it meets the standards?
A10. You may use a third-party vendor or organization or deliver the training with existing employees or managers. You should review any third-party training to ensure it meets or exceeds the minimum standards required under the law.
Q11. Are there different training requirements for employees in managerial/supervisory roles?
A11. Employers must make managers and supervisors, as well as all employees, aware of the extra requirements for those in managerial/supervisory roles. The model training does address the additional requirements, and employers may choose to provide additional or separate training to supervisors and managers.
Q12. What happens if some employees fail to take the training despite an employer’s best efforts to make it available, and to require everyone to take it?
A12. Employers are required to ensure that all employees receive training on an annual basis. Employers may take appropriate administrative remedies to ensure compliance.
Q13. Are businesses required to pay workers for the time spent in training, for instance, during the onboarding process before their actual assignment begins?
A13. Yes. Employers must follow federal regulations (e.g., 29 CFR 785.27-785.32), which generally require that employer-provided training time is counted as regular work hours.
Q14. How does the sexual harassment prevention training time impact the Hospitality Wage Order’s 80/20 rule?
A14. Like other mandatory trainings, this does not impact the percentage in the Order and should be treated in line with other employer trainings. It should be either added in line with the existing proportion or training hours should be excluded from the 80/20 calculation.
Q15. Are sections in the model training materials that are not expressly required in the law mandatory?
A15. No, but they are strongly recommended. The materials provided by the state should be considered the baseline, not the maximum. In addition, employers are encouraged to exceed the minimum training requirements.