Workplace Harassment Mandates

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With the rise of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, organizations are increasingly reflecting on harassment in the workplace by implementing more supportive cultural initiatives. As companies look to re-evaluate their transparency, values, and culture, it is important to develop an inclusive workplace where every individual feels comfortable. Not only do incidents of workplace harassment present a risk of litigation, but also an adverse impact on employee morale and productivity.  Education, training and a corporate culture that reinforces “zero tolerance” are the most effective tools to prevent and address (if necessary) incidents of harassment.

What You Need to Know:

New York State and NYC are implementing new laws to further address the importance of prevention and/or swift action against harassment in the workplace. New York State launched a website called Combatting Sexual Harassment in the workplace relating to the laws passed.

Effective 10/9/2018: The new law requires employers to implement mandatory annual training programs and distribute written anti- harassment policies.  Annual Sexual Harassment Prevention training programs must include:

  • An explanation of Sexual Harassment
  • Examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful Sexual Harassment
  • Information regarding federal and states policies/guidelines
  • Information concerning employees’ rights and all available avenues for complaints
  • The Sexual Harassment training program must be interactive

Effective 4/1/2019:  Employers with 15 or more employees must provide mandatory, interactive, annual anti-sexual harassment training for all employees, including supervisory and managerial employees. Trainings must include:

  • An explanation of Sexual Harassment as a form of unlawful discrimination under City, State and Federal laws
  • A description of Sexual Harassment and use of examples
  • Any internal or external complaint processes available to employees
  • A prohibition on retaliation and examples
  • Information on bystander intervention, including resources that explain how to engage in bystander intervention
  • Specific responsibilities of supervisors and managerial employees in the prevention of Sexual Harassment and retaliation, and measures that such staff may take to appropriately address complaints
  • For more information on training guidelines and policy models/drafts, see here. 

Employers must complete training of all current employees NO LATER THAN JANUARY 1ST, 2019
New hires must be trained within 30 days
 (in addition to the company’s annual training) EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1st, 2019

Additionally, for NYC Employers: the New York City Council passed the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act, which covers 11 separate bills and will be one of the strictest anti-sexual-harassment laws in the country.  The act is effective as of April 1st, 2019.

  • The law will require employers with 15 or more workers in the city to conduct:
    • Annual, interactive sexual-harassment training for all employees—including interns.
    • Managers and supervisors will need to be provided with additional training and must cover, at a minimum, the specific responsibilities that supervisory and managerial employees have when it comes to preventing sexual harassment and retaliation, and measures they may take to appropriately address sexual-harassment complaints
    • New hires must be trained within 30 days (in addition to the company’s annual training)
    • Employers must keep training records for at least three years, with signed acknowledgment forms from the employees who attended
    • There is a lot of overlap between the state and city laws, but there are some additional obligations for New York City employers, for example, the training must include information about the importance of bystander intervention to curb workplace harassment
How MBL Benefits Can Assist You
As you may be aware, MBL Benefits offers our clients access to ThinkHR which has an e-learning component.  They have shared that they will be releasing curriculum to support the new initiatives later this year and early next.  If you have not already signed up for the service and/or need us to reset your password to regain access please let us know.

Additionally, ThinkHR’s certified HR professionals are available to provide guidance on revising your handbook and company policies.

MBL’s team can also coordinate live and webinar trainings to address specific topics that may be relevant to your unique team.

Of course, we are available to support you as needed.  Feel free to reach out to us for more information at any time.

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