New York delays sexual harassment training mandate
- New York has pushed back its compliance deadline for employers in the state to complete employee sexual harassment training. Originally proposed for Jan. 1, 2019, employers now have until Oct. 9 next year to achieve compliance, it said in new final guidelines. The guidelines did not move employers' deadline for adopting sexual harassment policies from today, Oct. 9.
- Some adjustments to the draft guidance clarify that employers should prohibit harassment based on "self-identified or perceived sex." Further, an initial note to complete investigations within 30 days has been changed to "prompt and thorough, commenced immediately and completed as soon as possible."
- The law also prohibits mandatory arbitration provisions in relation to sexual harassment in any employment contract and ensures that nondisclosure agreements can only be executed at the victim's request.
The #MeToo movement has sparked not only culture shifts but also new legislation across the country, including some training mandates. At the beginning of the wave, few employers had sought to update their training protocols, but recent reports show that the movement is having an effect now.
In a NAVEX survey, respondents identified their top training objective as "creating a culture of ethics and respect." NAVEX said this might indicate that organizations are looking at all risk areas, following the compliance failures that have surfaced in high-profile incidents and a growing understanding of culture's importance.
Similarly, federal enforcement officials said they didn't immediately see an uptick in sexual harassment. But a recent report from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) indicates that employees may be more willing to come forward now.
The agency said it filed 66 harassment lawsuits so far this year, including 41 suits specifically alleging sexual harassment. That amounts to a more than 50% year-over-year increase in sexual harassment-specific suits compared to fiscal year 2017 figures, EEOC said.