State Requirements for Sexual Harassment Training

I think the never-ending, heart-breaking news stories, and the fantastic movie Bombshell, not to mention Ronan Farrow’s riveting book, Catch and Kill, prove that sexual harassment training is long overdue in pretty much every work environment. Yes, even in the work-from-home situation we’re all facing now. I’ve heard some ugly stories about harassment over Zoom.

With sexual harassment so prevalent in the news and in the workplace, more and more states are passing sexual harassment laws that employers must comply with. If your law firm has employees in multiple states, it can be even more challenging to keep the training requirements straight.

In this article I will cover several states that have training requirements and summarize the details of the laws. (Please note that these laws can change and that the information below does not constitute legal advice!)

Before we review the state requirements, let’s first discuss Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is a federal law that protects individuals from discrimination based upon sex. This law makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against individuals in hiring, firing, and other terms and conditions of employment because of their gender. Courts have found that sexual harassment is a form of discrimination, therefore it violates the laws against discrimination in the workplace. Title VII covers private employers, state and local governments, and educational institutions employing a certain number of employees.

State-Specific Sexual Harassment Laws

The first state to pass a law requiring sexual harassment training was California. Sexual harassment is illegal under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Sexual harassment protections extend to applicants, employees, unpaid interns, professional relationships and independent contractors. California employers of five or more employees, including those who work outside California, are required to provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees every two years. Supervisors must receive two hours of training, and all other employees must receive one hour of training. Even temporary and seasonal employees must be trained. This training needs to be completed within six months of the date of hire. (Why not roll it into your onboarding program?)

Another state to pass a sexual harassment training law was New York. All employers, regardless of size, must train all employees at least once a year. This may be based on the calendar year, anniversary of each employee’s start date, or any other date the employer chooses. All employees in New York City must be trained after 90 days of hire unless the employee received training within the same annual cycle from a previous employer. New York does not specify a minimum training length and the training must be renewed annually.

Connecticut is another state that has sexual harassment training requirements. On June 18, 2019, Connecticut mandated a new state law expanding its sexual harassment training requirements. All employers of any size must provide sexual harassment training to their supervisors in Connecticut. Employers also must now provide two hours of sexual harassment training to all employees, not just supervisors. New employees must be trained within six months of hire and all current employees must be trained by October 1, 2020.

Next is Delaware. New supervisors must receive additional interactive training within one year of their date of hire or commencement of their supervisory role. Delaware does not specify a specific length of training, but best practice is 1 to 1-and-a-half hours for employees and 2 hours for supervisors. Another note is that the training must be conducted for new employees within one year of the commencement of their employment.

Illinois is one of the newer states to pass sexual harassment training laws. All employers in Illinois must provide sexual harassment training to all employees each year. Illinois employees must be trained on an annual basis and the law does not specify the length of training. Restaurants and bars are required to provide specialized training and sexual harassment policies.

Maine also has sexual harassment training requirements. Maine’s state law requires employers with 15 or more employees in the workplace to provide sexual harassment training to all employees. Training must be provided within one year of hire for new employees and supervisors must be trained within one year of moving into a supervisory role. Supervisors must also receive additional interactive training within one year of being in a supervisor role. Maine is another state that does not specify the minimum training length, but it is good to use best practice. The renewal is every two years.

Washington state’s law is limited to employers in retail, hotel, motel security and property service industries. Employers with even one employee must offer annually sexual harassment training. Managers and Supervisors must be trained and employers must adopt a harassment policy that includes a list of resources for the employees to utilize, including the contact information of the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the state human rights commission and local advocacy groups that focus on preventing sexual harassment and assault.

If you need insights into your state’s sexual harassment requirements, contact me today and I can give you a state-by-state guide that features:

  • Which employees need to train

  • When employees need to be trained

  • How often employees need to be trained

  • How often employees need to receive training

  • Links to each State's Law

Do You Need a State Mandate to Require this Training? NO!

Even if your state doesn't require or recommend training, it's still a good idea to include sexual harassment training to your employees.

Luckily for you, Savvy is a licensed partner with Vado, an award-winning, off-the-shelf, e-learning courseware provider specializing in management development, compliance training, and employee business skills topics.

With customizable and ala carte options you can mix and match Vado’s short courses to create the right sexual harassment training program for your law firm. Further, you can add your state’s Legal Supplement to meet your state required sexual harassment training program.

Contact me today for more information! And if you’re a current SavvyAcademy LMS subscriber, we can load this content for you immediately, getting your sexual harassment training launched quickly!

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