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Action Required: Don’t Let the Pandemic Overshadow State Mandated Harassment Training

It is hard to believe that we are entering the last few months of 2020. With the chaos that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused all businesses, it has been easy to push certain tasks to the side to focus on pandemic-related matters, such as reopening businesses and keeping employees safe. However, employers cannot ignore non-COVID-19-related state-specific requirements such as mandatory sexual harassment training. Currently, eight states including California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia (for specific industries), Illinois, Maine, New York (and New York City), and Washington (for certain industries) require harassment training by statute.

Employers will want to keep in mind that despite the pandemic, the mandatory training is still required and as of this article’s publication, only CT has offered a temporary extension on the state’s sexual harassment training deadline for those employees who were hired after October 1, 2019. Covered employers in CT must apply for such extension with the CT Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO).

Training requirements, including who must be trained, duration of the program, frequency, new hire training, content, and other requirements, vary by state. Multi-state employers who wish to develop one program should consider the most stringent requirements for each state and ensure their program meets those elements. For example to meet the requirements of all states, an employer’s program must include the following:

Who should be trained: All employees (supervisors & non-supervisors)

Duration of the program: Two hours for supervisors; one hour for non-supervisors  

Frequency of training: Annually

New hire training: Within six months of hire or promotion (note: within 90-days for New York City employees)

Many states, including California and New York, also require that the training must be interactive. Virtual training in New York State is permissible if it meets the interactive component. Additional information surrounding the training requirements in New York State may be found here. New York City employers with 15 or more employees must also provide annual harassment training in line with New York City requirements. Additional information surrounding New York City harassment training guidelines may be found here.

For employers with a presence in California, the state-mandated harassment training is due by January 1, 2021. This training is required for employers with five or more employees. Employees must receive at least one hour of training every two years. Supervisors and managers must receive at least two hours of training every two years. California law requires the training to include practical examples of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. Employers may also choose a virtual training option in California if the training is effectively interactive, much like New York State. Additional information surrounding the training requirements in California may be found here.

Effective October 1, 2019, employers in Connecticut with three or more employees must provide two hours of sexual harassment training to all new hires. The training must be provided within six months of the date of hire. The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) has developed training criteria to meet the minimum requirements for this training. Connecticut law also requires employers to provide periodic supplemental training to update employees at least every 10 years. Effective October 1, 2020, employers with less than three employees will be required to provide this training to all supervisory employees. However, supervisors that received this training after October 1, 2018 are not required to receive this training a second time. Connecticut also allows the training to be done virtually if it is interactive. Additional information may be found here.

Delaware employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide sexual harassment prevention training to new employees within one year of their date of hire and then every two years thereafter. Existing employees must receive the training within one year of the effective date of the law by December 31, 2020 as the effective date of the law was January 1, 2019) and then every two years. In addition to the mandatory training requirement, Delaware employers with four or more employees must provide all employees a sexual harassment information sheet at the time of hire. Additional information surrounding Delaware’s sexual harassment training requirement may be found here under section § 711A Unlawful employment practices; sexual harassment.

Employers with tipped employees in the District of Columbia must provide sexual harassment training to employees no later than 90 days after hire, unless the employee has participated in training within the past two years. Tipped employees hired before the effective date of the law (July 1, 2019), must be trained no later than two years from the applicability date (by July 1, 2021). Training for employees may be conducted in person or online. Managers, owners, or operators of covered businesses must attend in-person training at least once every two years. Additional information regarding the District of Columbia sexual harassment training may be found here.

Effective January 1, 2020, all employers in Illinois must provide annual sexual harassment training to their employees. Illinois restaurants and bars must provide additional training and may develop their own supplemental training and written sexual harassment policy, provided they meet or exceed the minimum training standards outlined in Section 2-110 of the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA). Training may be provided to employees in person or virtually. Additional information surrounding Illinois sexual harassment training may be found here.

Employers in Maine with 15 or more employees are required to provide new employees with sexual harassment training within one year of their start date. Employers must also conduct additional training for supervisory and managerial employees within one year of their date of hire. Maine employers must also use the state provided checklist when developing their sexual harassment training program and must keep a record of the training, including a record of employees who have received the required training. All employers in ME must also provide a written notice regarding workplace harassment to all employees annually.  Additional information surrounding the Maine harassment training and notice requirements may be found here.

In Washington, hotel, motel, retail, or security guard entity, or property services contractors must provide sexual harassment training, including how to prevent sexual assault, to all employees by January 1, 2021. In addition to providing training, all employees must be provided with a panic button in case of an emergency. Employees must also be provided with a list of contact information to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Washington State Human Rights Commission and local sexual harassment and sexual assault advocacy groups. Additional information may be found here.

HR Works Can Help

HR Works offers a variety of training options including an online Learning Management System (LMS), in person or virtual training to keep businesses in compliance with state mandated harassment trainings. Please contact your HR Works Representative or our Business Development Team at 1-877-219-9062 to discuss our training options for your business.

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.