In the wake of the #MeToo movement, both New York City and state passed the country’s most strident workplace sexual harassment laws, the majority of which went into effect last week. The state and municipal regulations are similar; both require all employers, from the largest conglomerates to the smallest mom-and-pop shops, to conduct yearly training to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Those currently employed in New York state must undergo training by October 9, 2019, and all new hires must be trained “as soon as possible.” In the city, that means within 90 days. Other states mandate sexual harassment training, but in New York, the training must recur annually, and the laws apply to all businesses, regardless of size. This presents a challenge to small businesses. Frank Cania, a Rochester-based human resources consultant, estimates at least 50 percent of small-business owners across the state aren’t aware of the new regulations. However, he views it as an opportunity not only to cut down on sexual harassment but also for businesses to reexamine other policies as well. "You want to have training that goes well beyond sexual harassment,” he says. “You want to cover discrimination and harassment based on any protected category [such as age, disability, race, and gender], not just sexual harassment."
New York’s Sexual Harassment Training Laws Go Into Effect