- New York has released a draft of its model sexual harassment policy and training that will become mandatory for employers in the state next month.
- A new law requires that training be provided to all employees, supervisors and managers annually. And to help employers comply, the state is providing model policies, compliance forms and training requirements. Employers must provide new hires training within 30 days of their start date, even if they received the same training from a previous employer and even if they're only temporary employees.
- The new standards require the training to follow an interactive model — employers can conduct the trainings through an online platform requiring employees to respond to questions or they can enlist a live trainer or anyone available to respond to questions and receive feedback. The guidance says sexual harassment extends to sex stereotyping, including hostile actions taken because of someone's sexual orientation, gender identity or transgender status.
New York City's council passed an ordinance in April requiring employers in the city to provide sexual harassment training, a measure slated to take effect next spring. With this on employers' radars already, the statewide legislation puts city employers at the intersection of the two.
The legislation, along with other such mandates across the county, may have come as a response to the #MeToo movement, which has put a spotlight on American workplaces and how they respond to sexual harassment. Some employers have taken quick action following the rise of the movement, but many employers have not updated their sexual harassment policies and or strategies, research shows.
What's more, it appears the problem is still pervasive in many sectors, like the technology industry and academia. A recent Uber settlement, for example, cost the company almost $2 million. Employers that still struggle with sexual harassment might take a cue from either of New York's initiatives. As they both point out, training is everything. Employees need to know how to recognize harassment and when and how to report it. Employers can't skimp on training managers, either. Once that knowledge is in place, a culture of dignity, respect and professionalism can form and permeate an organization from the top down.