Harassment and discrimination

Add Some Variety to Sexual Harassment Training In New York

To successfully meet New York’s sexual harassment training requirement, you need the right resources.

If your company has employees in New York, you have until April, 2020 to provide them with sexual harassment prevention training.

New York also requires you continue to provide training to employees annual thereafter.

Same Training Is Boring Training

Repeating training is smart because people forget. I know I appreciate a compelling reminder every now and then to stay on my best behavior.

Still the reminder needs to come at me in different forms. I don’t want to watch exactly the same show year after year after year, unless of course it’s the movie, A Christmas Story. For that I’ll make an exception.

New York Training Tip

New York State spells out what needs to be included in the training. New York City has its own requirements, which of course include all the State’s requirements, and a few extras.

If you’re going for compliance, you may as well use New York City’s requirements. Then you know you’re covered.

The Training Can Be E-learning

If your company has employees scattered all over the country, many working in small groups or even at home, you pretty much have to deliver sexual harassment training via an e-learning option.

I can’t imagine that a national retailer or restaurant chain doing business in New York is going to successfully pull off in-person sexual harassment training. The costs will be too high and the logistical headaches too great.

Standard E-learning Still Has Issues

Here’s the thing, you can’t just purchase a single sexual harassment course, load it up on your LMS, tell everyone to take it, and call it a day. There are problems you need to overcome:

  • New York isn’t the only state that requires training. The other states that do require it might have slight differences in the training content.
  • While New York doesn’t dictate the length of the training, some states do. California requires an hour for employees and two hours for supervisors. Connecticut requires two hours for all employees.
  • Uninterrupted time blocks are hard to create when there are only a handful of employees working at any given time. A retailer may have only three employees working. Pulling someone off the floor for a long time isn’t likely to happen.
  • New York City offers a free training, but it requires you finish it once you start, and if you can’t, you need to start over. How do you think that’s going to work out.
Sexual Harassment Training New York

A Better Solution

The law doesn’t say the training has to happen in one sitting. It also doesn’t limit what you might add to make it more interesting.

Of course, any sexual harassment training needs to cover the basics, including:

  • A description of illegal conduct.
  • What to do if it happens to you or you witness it.
  • What you can expect if you report the problem.
  • That retaliation is illegal.

Managers need to know:

  • How to appropriately set expectations.
  • How to monitor the workplace for problems.
  • How to take appropriate action when they learn of a problem.
  • How to manage a complaint investigation.

Training That Adds Value

If you’re going to take the time to provide this training, make sure it’s adding value. Use the training to help create a better workplace culture. Imagine supporting the foundation material with one or more of the following topics:

  • How to recognize other forms of harassment that are illegal, but not sexual harassment.
  • How to be a respectful coworker.
  • How to appreciate diversity.
  • How to keep unconscious bias from creating problems.
  • How to work through conflicts with coworkers.
  • How to deal with social media.
  • How to deal with dating in the workplace.
  • How to handle problems that come up for employees working in bars or restaurants.
  • How to have a coaching conversation that changes behavior.

By adding in a short course or two to foundation courses, you help keep the training interesting and fresh. Remember, people don’t want to watch the exact same training every single year.

You Need a Flexible Solution

You can meet the letter of the law and still provide more without the hassle and expense of in-person training or “one and done” online courses.

Let me introduce you to The Respectful Workplace Toolkit. It has nearly two dozen microlearning courses that you can mix and match based on your organizational goals and each employee’s role.

It allows you to decide the content you want to include to accomplish much more than simple compliance with New York’s training requirement.

Load them into your learning management system (LMS) and assign them as you see fit. Supervisors and managers might be asked to take one set of courses. New employees another. Existing employees might be assigned a course or two as a refresher.

Spread out the assignment over six months. That way managers don’t have to figure out how they’re going to schedule employees for long blocks. Instead they could suggest that an employee jump on a computer and complete 1-2 courses during a lull.

Over time, everyone fulfills the compliance requirements without a major business disruption.

Other States Have Laws Too

The toolkit has been built to fulfill compliance requirements in all the states that have recently passed sexual harassment training laws. In addition to New York these include:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Delaware
  • Washington

As new states add laws, the toolkit will add supplements that ensure you can easily cover those requirements as well.

If you operate in multiple states and are unsure how to keep up with the rapidly changing regulatory environment, we’d be happy to help.

Schedule a short call to talk about your training needs and goals. If the Respectful Workplace Toolkit sounds like a possible solution to your problem, we can set up a demo so you can check out the courses for yourself.

Free Resource for Planning Your Sexual Harassment Training Program

If you’ve never rolled out this sort of training before, you’ll want to read our Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Implementation Guide for HR Managers. Or if you prefer, download a copy in PDF format.

Sexual harassment training guide

By Tom LaForce

Tom LaForce is a speaker, consultant, writer, facilitator and coach. Since 1996 he's helped workplace teams improve performance.