What Businesses Need to Know About State-Mandated Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Requirements

Businesses in six states and Washington, D.C., have deadlines approaching to complete mandated sexual harassment prevention training requirements.
An employee takes sexual harassment prevention training from his laptop.

With sexual harassment in the workplace receiving national attention, several states mandate covered employers provide their employees with sexual harassment prevention training. As of the publication of this article, deadlines to complete the training are approaching in many of those states.

What businesses need to know in:

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training in California

By Jan. 1, 2021, employers with five or more employees and within six months of an individual assuming a position must provide effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment prevention to:

  • All supervisory employees (at least two hours)
  • All nonsupervisory employees (at least one hour)

Interactive training could be in the form of e-learning or a live webinar. However, the e-learning training must provide instructions on how to contact a trainer who can answer questions within two business days.

Interactive Sexual Harassment Prevention training must be provided once every two years.  

The required training must explain:

  • The definition of sexual harassment under the Fair Employment and Housing Act and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • The statutes and case-law prohibiting and preventing sexual harassment
  • The types of conduct that can be sexual harassment
  • The remedies available for victims of sexual harassment
  • Strategies to prevent sexual harassment
  • Supervisors’ obligation to report harassment
  • Practical examples of harassment
  • The limited confidentiality of the complaint process
  • Resources for victims of sexual harassment, including to whom they should report it
  • How employers must correct harassing behavior
  • What to do if a supervisor is personally accused of harassment
  • The elements of an effective anti-harassment policy and how to use it
  • Discuss harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, which shall include practical examples inclusive of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation

Finally, any training must include questions for the participants that assess learning, skill-building activities to assess understanding and application of content, and hypothetical scenarios about harassment with discussion questions.

For more detailed information on sexual harassment prevention training requirements in California, reference the Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s (DFEH) FAQ document or visit the DFEH website.

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training in Illinois

As of Jan. 1, 2020, employers with employees working in the state are required to train every employee each calendar year and all employees must be trained by Dec. 31, 2020.  

Employers may develop their own sexual harassment prevention training program that meets or exceeds the minimum standards for sexual harassment prevention training outlined in Section 2-109 of the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) or may use the model sexual harassment prevention training developed by the Illinois Department of Human Rights. In addition to the training required under the IHRA, restaurants and bars are also required to provide supplemental sexual harassment prevention training included in the law.

The minimum training standards for all employees include:

  • an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with the IHRA
  • examples of conduct that constitutes unlawful sexual harassment
  • a summary of relevant federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment, including remedies available to victims of sexual harassment
  • a summary of responsibilities of employers in the prevention, investigation, and corrective measures of sexual harassment

For more information on Illinois sexual harassment prevention training requirements, including information on the required supplemental training for bar and restaurant employees, read the article  “Illinois Enacts Sweeping Anti-Harassment, Pay Equity Changes, and Expands its Human Rights Law” and check out the  Illinois Department of Human Rights website.

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training in Connecticut

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Connecticut's sexual harassment prevention training deadline was extended from Oct. 1, 2020 to Jan. 1, 2021. 

Employers with three or more employees must provide their employees with two hours of sexual harassment prevention training. Any existing employees must receive the training by Jan. 1, 2021, unless they have received training since Oct. 1, 2019 in which case they do not need to receive it again except for the supplemental training required every 10 years.

Any employee hired after Oct. 1, 2019 must receive the training within six months of the date of his or her hire. If an employer has fewer than three employees, all supervisors must receive two hours of training. Existing supervisors must receive the training by the new extended deadline of Jan. 1, 2021, unless they have received training since Oct. 1, 2019, in which case they do not need to receive it again. Any supervisor hired after Oct. 1, 2019 must receive the training within six months of the date of his or her hire. 

Connecticut employers must provide supplemental training to their employees not less than every 10 years, which is a considerably longer amount of time compared to other states that require similar training. 

For more information, read the article in WORX titled, “CT Law Imposes New and Expanded Anti-Sexual Harassment Obligations” and check out the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities website.

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training in New York

Every employer in New York state is required to provide employees with annual sexual harassment prevention training. An employer that does not use the model training developed by the New York State Department of Labor and Division of Human Rights must ensure that the training they use meets or exceeds the following minimum standards.

The training must:

  • be interactive
  • include an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the N.Y. Department of Labor in consultation with the N.Y. Division of Human Rights
  • include examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment 
  • include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment
  • include information concerning employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints
  • include information addressing conduct by supervisors and any additional responsibilities for such supervisors
  • provide a notice to employees that contains the employer’s sexual harassment policy and a copy of the information presented at the sexual harassment prevention training

Model training materials are available to employers to download from the NYS Department of Labor and Division of Human Rights. Each employee must receive training on an annual basis, starting Oct. 9, 2018.

The above are the requirements under New York state law. New York City has additional mandatory training requirements under its Human Rights Law for employers with 15 or more employees working in NYC.

For more information on the state and city, our whitepaper on NYC and New York state sexual harassment laws outlines requirements or visit NY.gov or the NYC Human Rights website.

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training in Maine

In workplaces with 15 or more employees, employers must conduct an education and training program for all new employees within one year of the start of their employment to help ensure a workplace free of sexual harassment.

Training provided must include:

  • the illegality of sexual harassment, the definition of sexual harassment under state and federal laws and federal regulations including the Maine Human Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • a description of sexual harassment, utilizing examples
  • the internal complaint process available to the employee
  • the legal recourse and complaint process available through the Maine Human Rights Commission, including directions on how to contact the commission and the protection against retaliation

Employers shall conduct additional training for supervisory and managerial employees within one year of the start of their employment that includes at a minimum:

  • the specific responsibility of supervisory and managerial employees
  • methods that these employees must take to ensure immediate and appropriate corrective action in addressing sexual harassment complaints

For more information visit the Maine Human Rights Commission website.

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training in Washington D.C.

In 2018, the Council of the District of Columbia passed the Tipped Wage Workers Fairness Amendment Act, which went into effect Dec. 13, 2018. The Act, among other things, imposes sexual harassment training requirements on employers of tipped workers. Several of the provisions of the Act including a sexual harassment prevention training course for all employees of businesses with tipped employees, and sexual harassment reporting were subject to future funding. On Aug. 31, 2020, through Act 23-0760, the Council repealed the funding impediment. The portions previously subject to funding was scheduled to become effective Nov. 1, 2020. 

For more information, please see Act 23-0760.

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training in Delaware

Employers with 50 or more employees in the state must provide interactive training on sexual harassment prevention for employees and supervisors. The training for existing employees must have been completed by Dec. 31, 2019, and must be provided to all new employees within one year of their start date in their position. Supervisors must receive training within one year of starting their job as supervisor. Training must be conducted every two years for employees and supervisors.

The training must include:

  • the definition of sexual harassment, including the use of examples
  • availability of legal action and the complaint process for employees
  • that sexual harassment is illegal
  • directions on how to contact the Delaware Department of Labor
  • and the legal prohibition against retaliation

Delaware Passes Sexual Harassment Prevention Law, Requires Interactive Training provides more information on the requirements or visit the Delaware Department of Labor website.

Looking Forward

Paychex can provide support to help your business with its HR needs, including helping keep you up to date on federal and state regulations and providing access to training through our Paychex Learning Management System.

Candace Bean

Candace Bean is a compliance analyst who concentrates on the impact of legislative and regulatory changes on employment law for Paychex, Inc.

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