Employment Law Update – September 2019

Employment Law Update – September 2019

Syntrio strives to keep you updated on all developments in the labor and employment law arena, and specifically those legal changes and legislative activity that may directly impact your obligations to your employees. The following are important news items that you should take note of and ensure your organization is remaining compliant with this ever-changing area of law.

New York Harassment Training Deadline Approaches

When New York City and New York State enacted similar laws in April 2018 requiring employers to conduct harassment training, many employers scrambled to determine how they would comply. Those same employers breathed a sigh of relief when they became aware that they had an entire year from the October 9, 2018 effective date of those laws to comply.  For those employers who procrastinated on conducting harassment training the time has come to pay the piper, as the October 9, 2019 deadline to complete harassment training for your entire New York workforce is upon us. 

While New York City’s training mandate states that training was to begin on April 1, 2019 (and be completed within 12 months), the state law trumps the City ordinance. Therefore, training should be completed by October 9, 2019 in order to be in compliance with both of these important laws. Contact Syntrio for assistance with setting up a program to ensure your workforce is trained on these important issues. 

CA Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Deadline Extended

Among a flurry of late August legislative enactments, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 778, which extended the deadline for employers with five or more employees to provide harassment training to their entire workforce. This important change means that employers have until January 1, 2021 to make sure that their existing workforces receive training. Important to note, new employees (or those employees taking on a supervisory role) must receive training within six months of hire or promotion regardless of the January 1, 2021 compliance date.

The new law Governor Newsom signed clears up a point of confusion in the 2018 legislative initiative that expanded the California harassment training requirement. Under the original bill it appeared as though 2019 would be a mandatory training year, regardless of whether training had been conducted in 2018. Under the clarified language, employers will be able to remain on their current two-year training cycle, and will be compliant for two years if training has been provided in 2019 or later. 

Illinois Training Mandate Approaches

When Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a law in June that amended the Illinois Human Rights Act to require all employers to provide harassment prevention training to their entire workforce, that state joined a growing list of jurisdictions with similar requirements. Obviously such a sweeping piece of legislation creates a heavy burden on the large number of employers who are not currently conducting any sort of sexual harassment prevention training, but you should also know that there are financial penalties if your organization fails to comply with the this new law, which becomes effective January 1, 2020.

Those employers who choose to ignore the law face fines ranging from $500-$5000 per violation. The size of fine depends on the size of the organization and the number of employees involved. It is yet to be determined whether the fines will be per employee raising a complaint of non-compliance or per organization, but you can be certain that the Illinois legislature will want this new law to have sharp teeth, and will be looking to enforce it, especially at the outset. 

Those employers in the hospitality industry should also be aware that the new amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act creates special training obligations for employers in the restaurant and bar industry. These employers must use special programs dedicated to the hospitality industry, and ensure that the training mechanisms use specific examples dedicated to the unique environment in restaurants and bars that studies have shown creates a high risk for sexual harassment in the workplace. 

Syntrio has over 20 years experience helping organizations of all sizes improve their workplace culture and maintain compliance with the growing number of regulatory requirements throughout the country. Contact our account representatives for more information on how we can create a solution for your organization, no matter its size.

Since 2007, Jonathan has practiced labor and employment law, with a focus on litigation, individual plaintiff and class action discrimination, harassment, and other employment-specific cases as well as focusing his practice toward advising employers on preventive practice. Jonathan has presented over 100 live employment discrimination and harassment prevention training courses across all 50 states.

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