EMPLOYMENT LAW NEWS

Sexual Harassment Training in the
#MeToo Era

By Jana Bjorklund, GovDocs’ Senior Counsel, Employment Law
Published March 6, 2020

Sexual harassment training requirements by state

Since the #MeToo movement escalated a little over two years ago, we have continued to see news reports of sexual harassment in the workplace. 

Jurors handed down a decision Feb. 24 in one of the most high-profile cases of sexual misconduct allegations in the workplace — the lawsuit against movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

He received a guilty verdict in New York recently and will face up to 25 years in prison. Weinstein’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 11. He also faces charges of sexual assault and rape in California.

Since the #MeToo movement escalated a little over two years ago, we have continued to see news reports of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Just recently, in November 2019, a lawsuit against a major East Coast headhunting firm said the company failed to appropriately discipline an executive who allegedly committed sexual harassment, according to the New York Post. The allegations regarding the executive’s behavior were egregious and included physical assault, inappropriate communication and behavior, and crude drawings of private body parts posted in plain view.

The employee who reported the behavior claims she was forced out of her job as a result. The company now must:

  • Pay New York City a $155,000 penalty for its executive’s behavior
  • Provide new sexual harassment prevention training to its employees
  • Change its HR policies
  • Identify an independent counsel or HR firm to handle the company’s harassment complaints

Addressing Workplace Misconduct

Employers need to be mindful of workplace behaviors and investigate and address any issues immediately. And as the above referenced cases demonstrate, this includes issues from frontline employees all the way up to the executive suite.

Related: Romance in the Workplace – What Employers Need to Know

In my experience, companies generally want to do the right thing and prevent behaviors that can affect productivity, morale, retention and recruiting. One way to do this is to provide harassment prevention training for all employees. Since the onset of #MeToo, seven states and one city have passed laws requiring such training.

Following is a list of the states and the city that require sexual harassment prevention training with a brief overview of applicable requirements.

In addition to the information below, the training in each jurisdiction may require specific content or manner of training. Many of these laws require that the training be interactive. Employers should consult with their employment counsel to make sure their training meets the specific requirements of each jurisdiction in which their employees work.

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Requirements

STATECOVERED EMPLOYERCOVERED EMPLOYEESTRAINING REQUIREMENTSRECORDKEEPING REQUIREMENTS
CaliforniaEmployers with five or more employees.All employees must receive training.By Jan. 1, 2021, supervisors must receive two hours of training. Non-supervisors must receive one hour of training.

New employees and newly appointed supervisors must receive training within six months of hire/new position.

Employers must provide subsequent training every two years.

Documentation of training must be kept for two years and include:
• Names of employees trained
• Date of training
• Sign in sheet
• Type of training
• Copies of training materials
• Training provider, if any.
Connecticut All employers must provide training to supervisors. Employers with three or more employees must provide training to all employees.All supervisors must receive training. Non-supervisors must receive training if their employer has three or more employees.By Oct. 1, 2020, supervisors must receive two hours of training. Employers of three or more employees must provide two hours training to non-supervisors.

New employees and newly appointed supervisors must receive training within six months of hire/new position.

Subsequent training is only required every 10 years but is recommended every three years.

Not required. But employers are encouraged to retain training records as follows for at least one year:
• Copies of training materials
• Names, addresses and qualifications of trainers
• Names and titles of employees trained
• Dates training held
Delaware Employers with 50 or more employees in Delaware. All employees must receive training.As of Jan. 1, 2020, employers must provide training to all employees.

New employees and new supervisors must receive training within one year of hire/new position.

Subsequent training must be provided every two years.

No requirements.
IllinoisAll private employers with employees working in Illinois. All employees must receive training.As of Jan. 1, 2020, training must be provided once every year.No requirements.
Maine Employers with 15 or more employees.All new employees must receive training. Additional training requirements apply to supervisors and managers.
New employees must receive training within one year of date of hire.

Supervisors and managers must receive specific training within one year of commencing employment.

Record of training and who attended must be kept for three years.
New YorkAll employers. All employees who work in New York State must be trained.Current employees were required to have received training by Oct. 9, 2019.

New employees since that date should receive training as soon as possible.

Subsequent training must be provided to employees every year.

No requirements.
New York CityPrivate employers with 15 or more employees.All employees who work more than 80 hours in a calendar year and for at least 90 days in NYC must be trained.

Employers need to either train their independent contractors who work more than 80 hours and for at least 90 days in NYC or ensure they have received required training.

Employees must receive training within as soon as possible after date of hire. This includes short term employees, part time employees and interns.

Independent contractors must either receive training or provide verification they have received required training.

Subsequent training must be provided every year.

Record of all training must be kept for three years, including a signed acknowledgment of training from each employee trained.
Washington All hotel, motel, retail or security guard entities, or property services contractors.All employees must be trained.Hotels and Motels with 60 or more rooms must train all employees by Jan. 1, 2020.

All other covered employers must train employees by Jan. 1, 2021.

No requirements.

Conclusion

The momentum of the #MeToo movement hasn’t slowed. That means companies will likely see sexual harassment training requirements continue to expand across the country.

Employers should review laws in applicable jurisdictions and keep an eye out for changes. No company wants to be caught up in a negative public relations situation or face a sexual harassment lawsuit.

New name. Same great content. To better reflect the nature of the GovDocs blog, and the company’s mission, we have updated the name. Welcome to Employment Law News!

This Employment Law News Blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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