New York Passes Anti-Harassment Legislation: Let Syntrio Fulfill Your New Training Need

The past week has seen the harassment landscape in New York State change forever, as Governor Cuomo signed into law the New York State Legislature’s anti-harassment budget. Not to be outdone, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign into law the “NYC Act,” which will amend New York City human rights law. Both laws create new requirements for employers in the city and state, but perhaps the most daunting requirement in each law is a mandate that employers within the State and City provide annual anti-harassment training for employees.

More than Just Training Requirements

In addition to the training mandate, the NYC Act brings several categories of workers under its umbrella, including contractors, subcontractor, vendors, consultants, and other persons who were not previously protected from misconduct by the City’s human rights laws. Further, the New York State law prohibits the use of nondisclosure (confidentiality) provisions in settlement or arbitration agreements relating to sexual harassment claims. Finally, the State law requires the distribution mandatory written policies aimed at prohibiting harassment in the workplace. In short, these laws, enacted within days of one another have created a significant burden on New York State and City employers, and the requirements begin going into effect soon.

Harassment Training Requirements

Because Syntrio is engaged in the business of fulfilling e-learning solutions to your harassment training needs, the crux of this article will focus on the requirements New York State and New York City have placed on employers with regard to training. You should first know that many of the articles you are reading claiming full knowledge of the requirements of these new laws are making assumptions before the laws are product[s]. Although the State and City laws provide a road map for what is coming, you should expect that regulations will be enacted to assist with implementation and compliance with both pieces of legislation that may ultimately change an analysis and interpretation of what is required in the training that is becoming mandatory in New York. So stay tuned for updates, as what we think we know at this moment may (and likely will) change.

What we Know

The New York State law is explicit in its requirement that employers must provide training to all employees. Unlike California, where supervisors must be trained once every two years on the avoidance of sexual harassment, the New York State law requires that each and every employee your company employs be provided the training annually. The laws also tell us that the New York Department of Labor will develop a model program that will be compliant and will be available for download by October 9, 2018.

Although the State has taken on the task of developing a model training that can allegedly be used by all employers, we can nearly assure you that there will be difficulty with using the State’s model training for your organization (we all know one-size-fits-all is not a quality approach to training), and this is a big reason why we are here to help. Syntrio’s training is more engaging, more concise, and more effective than what the State will be able to produce due to our vast experience and top-notch expertise in the field.

What We Don’t Know: Murky Requirements (For Now)

Although the laws themselves tell us very little about the requirements of the law as they will actually be interpreted by the State and City (including the potential length requirement –likely between 1-2 hours-) we do know that the training you provide must be interactive, and provide an explanation of sexual harassment. Training must also provide examples of unlawful harassment, and discuss the federal and state statutes and remedies available to victims of harassment. Further, methods of addressing complaints (both administratively and judicially) must be discussed. In addition, the training you provide must clearly state that sexual harassment is a form of employee misconduct and sanctions will be levied against those who witness and allow it to continue, and must also mention that retaliation against those who complain is illegal.

How Can Syntrio Help?

Unquestionably, there is a lot to digest in the paragraphs above. Fortunately for you, Syntrio is always ahead of the curve when it comes to new harassment legislation and we have already begun pre-developing a course tailored to meet the needs of New York employers as the laws develop. Although the training requirement goes into effect on October 9, 2018, it is unclear at this moment when the training must be completed by all employees. Before you rush to get training complete prior to the enactment deadline, please check with Syntrio to ensure that you get the course that best suits your needs and is fully compliant with the requirements of both the New York State and New York City laws.

Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content.

Contact for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.

Written by, Jon Gonzalez, Esq., Chief Counsel for Syntrio

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