#MeToo Leads to Training Mandates (and More)

HR Dive

David W. Garland, Member of the Firm and Chair of the firm’s National Employment, Labor & Workforce Management Steering Committee, authored an article in HR Dive, titled “#MeToo Leads to Training Mandates (and More).”

Following is an excerpt:

In our last column, we addressed the flurry of lawsuits brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) aimed at sex harassment in the workplace. States and cities, too, have been busy this year, crafting their own response to the #MeToo movement. Both New York state and New York City have enacted new laws requiring employers to provide training on sex harassment in the workplace. Although the number of these laws remains small, these requirements impact employers with operations there, and they come on top of requirements in some states that existed before the #MeToo movement. Other legislative responses have also occurred in the first half of this year, such as banning nondisclosure provisions in settlement agreements, and more mandates are likely to come.

Most recently, while many were trying to enjoy the last bit of summer vacation before Labor Day, New York state launched a website related to the sex harassment training mandated earlier in the year. Although subject to public comment through Sept. 12 (not nearly a long enough period to provide sufficient comments), the website states that all employers must complete the training of all current employees by Jan. 1, 2019 — less than four months from now. It also provides that beginning the same day, all new hires must complete training within 30 days of their hire. The law also spells out what must be included in a company’s sex harassment policy and reporting procedure.

When finalized, New York state’s new training requirements will likely require employers to provide training for all employees, including temporary and transient employees — which means employees who work "just one day" for the employer or "just one day" in New York. Moreover, New York employers will be required to provide training that satisfies minimum standards spelled out by the state. Among other things, it must be interactive, include an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with state-issued guidance, include examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment and include information about remedies available to victims of sexual harassment.