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NYC's FAQs on Sexual Harassment Training May Be Rules to Live By

This year, New York City passed a law requiring all private employers with 15 or more employees to provide annual, interactive anti-sexual harassment training to certain employees. And while the law may not apply to all employers -- or even every single employee or contractor -- the city's requirements can be a model for other cities or states or any business that wants to reduce or eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace.

Here are some of the frequently asked questions about NYC's sexual harassment training requirements, and how they might apply to your small business.

The Big Apple

The FAQs cover everything from determining whether the law applies to your business and which employees or independent contractors are required to receive the training to notices you must post and the kinds of records you need to keep. Specifically, employers will be required to provide training to employees and independent contractors who work more than 80 hours in a calendar year, so long as they haven't already received the mandated annual training elsewhere.

Most importantly, per the FAQs, is the material that must be covered in the training:

  • An explanation of sexual harassment as a form of unlawful discrimination under local law;
  • A statement that sexual harassment is also a form of unlawful discrimination under state and federal law;
  • A description of what sexual harassment is, using examples;
  • Any internal complaint process available to employees through their employer to address sexual harassment claims;
  • The complaint process available through the NYC Commission on Human Rights, the New York State Division of Human Rights and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, including contact information;
  • The prohibition of retaliation, pursuant to subdivision 7 of section 8-107, and examples thereof;
  • Information concerning bystander intervention, including but not limited to any resources that explain how to engage in bystander intervention; and
  • The specific responsibilities of supervisory and managerial employees in the prevention of sexual harassment and retaliation, and measures that such employees may take to appropriately address sexual harassment complaints.

The Big Problem

While some of what is covered is New York City-specific (like the NYC Commission on Human Rights, the New York State Division of Human Rights), the rest of the requirements provide a great basis for any employer's sexual harassment training. If you haven't already fashioned and implemented anti-harassment protocols in your workplace, the NYC model might be a good place to start.

You might also want to talk to an experienced employment attorney about local and state requirements in your area.

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