Legal

6 States Now Mandate Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
Groundwork is laid but ongoing efforts are required for widespread acceptance.
By Matthew C. Berger
T

he #MeToo era has prompted an increasing number of states to mandate sexual harassment prevention training in the workplace. California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine and New York all have such laws in place.

Here is a look at the laws in these states, noting which employers are covered, deadlines for completion and other nuances.

California mandates training for employers with five or more employees. By January 2020, training must be provided to supervisory and non-supervisory employees within six months of employment or assuming a supervisory position. For seasonal/temporary employees or those hired to work for less than six months, training is mandated within 30 calendar days of hire or within 100 hours worked, whichever occurs first. Excepted are employees of temporary services employers, which must provide training to seasonal/temporary employees.

Supervisors must receive two hours of training, and nonsupervisory employees receive one hour in a classroom setting with an in-person trainer. An interactive method (such as a webinar or e-learning) is also permissible.

Employers may develop their own training modules or use the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s online training course. Employer-created training must be conducted by a trainer with expertise in the topic.

After Jan. 1, 2020, employers must provide training to each employee in California once every two years and maintain training documentation for at least two years.

Connecticut mandates training for employers with three or more employees. Those with fewer than three need only train supervisors. Existing employees must receive training by October 2020. Employees hired on or after Oct. 1, 2019, must receive training within six months of hire. Employers with fewer than three employees must train supervisors by October 2020. New supervisors must receive training within six months of assuming a supervisory position. Those hired on or after Oct. 1, 2019, also have six months to receive training.

Training must be two hours in a classroom-like setting and allow for questions. The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities is developing online training, but employers may develop their own curriculum.

Women Raising hand during training
Employers must provide updated training every 10 years. Training records should be maintained at least one year and, if a complaint is filed involving someone the employer trained, until that complaint is resolved.

Delaware mandates training for employers with 50 or more employees (not including applicants or independent contractors). Supervisory and nonsupervisory employees must receive training by January 1, 2020 or within one year of hire for new employees. No training is mandated for employees with less than six months of continuous employment or those employed by employment agencies.

While no minimum length or trainer requirements exist, training must be interactive and occur every two years. There is no recordkeeping requirement, but it is recommended employers retain documentation for two years.

In Illinois, beginning Jan. 1, 2020, employers with 15 or more employees, and all restaurant and bar employers (restaurants, coffee shops, cafeterias and sandwich stands that give or sell food to the public, guests or employees, as well as kitchen/catering facilities where food is prepared on premises and served elsewhere) must provide annual sexual harassment prevention training for all employees, regardless of classification.

The Illinois Department of Human Rights will offer a free model training program. While employers may use their own program, it must meet or exceed the minimum standards of the model program.

Restaurant and bar employers must include supplemental training material (to be prepared and released by IDHR in both Spanish and English) that addresses sexual harassment issues seen frequently in their industry, includes an explanation of manager liability and responsibility under the law.

Illinois does not have requirements for training format, trainers or retention of records.

Maine mandates training for employers with 15 or more employees. New employees must receive training within one year of hire, and supervisory and managerial employees must have it within one year of hire or starting a supervisory/managerial role.

Maine does not have requirements for format, trainers or frequency. Employers must keep records for at least three years.

New York mandates that as of Oct. 9, 2019, all employers must provide training to all employees who work any portion of time in New York, regardless of immigration status: exempt; non-exempt; part-time; seasonal; temporary; interns who work more than 80 hours in a calendar year and have worked at least 90 days; and independent contractors who have performed work for the employer for more than 80 hours in a calendar year and more than 90 days and have not received the training elsewhere. New employees should receive training as soon as possible if they start after the October deadline.

New York employers must use the model sexual harassment prevention training program provided by the New York State Division of Human Rights and the New York Department of Labor, or establish a program that equals or exceeds the minimum standards of the program.

The training can be in person or online but must be interactive. Employees cannot merely watch a video or read a document without a component of feedback or interaction.

The state Division of Human Rights recommends a live trainer, but the trainer need not be certified. New York does not currently certify or license training providers. Employers may use third-party vendors or organizations or existing employees or managers to deliver the annual training. Employers are encouraged to keep records. New York City employers must keep records for three years.

While the states identified here have passed laws mandating sexual harassment prevention training in the workplace, employers should contact its counsel for additional information and to conduct trainings that comply with all applicable laws.


Matthew C. Berger is an associate in the labor and employment practice of Fox Rothschild LLP.