Wait, What? Employees Outside of New York City and New York State Must Receive Sexual Harassment Training Under New York’s New Laws
Employers in New York City may be thinking the new City and State sexual harassment training requirements are no big deal. You may be thinking: “We just conduct additional training for our New York City employees in addition to the New York State required training and we are all set.” Not so fast! There is even more to consider.
Certain Employees Outside of New York State and New York City Must Be Trained
The New York City Commission on Human Rights takes the position that if employees are based outside of the City but interact with employees in New York City, the non-City employees must be trained. This is true despite the fact they are not physically present in New York City!
WAIT, WHAT? Here is the training breakdown:
- Employees in Different States. An employer in New York City with operations in another state – such as California – where the employees from both locations interact with each other, is required to train the employees in California on not only California’s required sexual harassment training but also New York City’s. Confusing, right?
- Employees in New York State, but Outside of NYC. An employer with offices in New York City and upstate New York, whose employees interact with each other, must train all employees on sexual harassment in compliance with both New York State and New York City laws.
- Employees in Different Countries. An employer with offices in New York City and offices in another country – such as London – must train their employees in London on sexual harassment if those employees interact with the New York City employees.
From a practical perspective, the Commission’s broad interpretation of the law requires New York City employers to train many employees who may never even step foot in the City!
In contrast, New York State takes the position out of state employees only need to be trained if they work a “portion” of their time in New York State. While “portion” is not defined, we believe one day of work in New York is likely sufficient to trigger the training requirement!
Administrative Headache for Employers
Both the state and city laws create an administrative challenge for New York City and New York State employers in terms of which employees must be trained. The most conservative approach is to annually train all employees company-wide in compliance with New York State and New York City sexual harassment laws. However, from a cost perspective, this may not be an option. Thus, if you choose not to train everyone, the employer should consider the following:
- Do your employees in locations outside of New York City interact with the New York City employees? Do they have teleconferences? Do they have videoconferences? Do they physically travel to New York City? If the answer is yes, you need to do training.
- Do employees from outside of New York travel to New York for work? If the answer is yes, you need to train those employees who work a portion of their time in New York. But, how will you keep up with who comes to New York? One suggestion is to have an alert sent any time an employee requests reimbursement for a hotel room or mileage in New York State.
At the end of the day, training everyone may just be the right solution. The only cost will be lost time for the additional trained employee, as training is presumably already happening for everyone else and no additional training cost should be incurred. (Of course, if the company has offices in many different states, there may be more of a cost element to this analysis.) Also, if it ever came to light that the “harasser” or “victim” was not trained –even if training was not required – it just won’t look good to a jury, judge or the public. Finally, the training sends an important message – leaving anyone out of it may cast doubt on the company’s commitment to a harassment-free workplace.
Brody and Associates, LLC is providing interactive anti-harassment training compliant with both New York and New York City law for employers. Please contact our office for further details about these laws and how we can partner with you to achieve your new compliance obligations while simultaneously creating a harassment-free culture. If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203.454.0560.