Robin Shea, partner with leading national labor and employment law firm (and ThinkHR strategic employment law partner) Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP asks if it’s time for a “Uniform Harassment Training Act.”
New York State and New York City have enacted laws that require employers to provide sexual harassment training, joining California, Connecticut, and Maine. Contangy’s Steven Stecker has an excellent summary of the New York laws here. The New York State training requirements will take effect October 9, 2018, and the New York City requirements will take effect April 1, 2019.
If you think the New Yorks will be the last, think again. I’m betting that state and local sexual harassment training laws are the wave of the future.
Which wouldn’t be such a bad thing, except that it is a pain having all of these different requirements, especially if you’re trying to conduct harassment training for a group from different parts of the country.
For some reason, sales reps from Illinois and Oklahoma just aren’t that into the fact that you can get a cease-and-desist order against your sexual harasser in the State of Connecticut.
And, in one multi-state harassment training session I conducted, we were on a tight schedule and had to skip bathroom breaks so that the attendees from California would be sure to get their full mandatory two hours. (You were allowed to walk out when nature called — but only if you were from Alabama.)
For the other 46 states that will are likely to be enacting sexual harassment training laws in the not-too-distant future, I have some requests:
On a more positive note, here are some things that I like about many of these laws and think would be good to include in a federal harassment training law or my proposed “UHTA”:
New York City’s law will require training on bystander reporting and intervention, which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recommended in its proposed Enforcement Guidance on harassment. In my own harassment training, I have always encouraged employees to report harassment of which they become aware, even if they aren’t the victims themselves. I do think it’s a good idea for employers to encourage employees to report workplace harassment if they see it occurring, and to intervene when they feel that it’s appropriate and that they can do so safely.
ThinkHR’s harassment training courses have been updated to incorporate California and other state standards. ThinkHR customers can log into platform to access these online courses, along with a full library of titles.