Now what? Three Steps to Implementing New Sexual Harassment Training in New York and California

In retrospect, we should have expected 2019 to be the year of sexual harassment prevention training. As the #MeToo movement swirled and grew, it became clear that something needed to be done about harassment in the workplace, and legislators got to work. In California, New York, and Delaware, employers will now need to train all employees on harassment prevention. That’s some 25 million employees.

NY (New York) and CA (California) new sexual harassment prevention training mandates

To most, the new training requirement came as a surprise. Most critically, it came as a surprise to the people who have to implement it. If you’re one of them, you’re just getting your arms around it all. You need to roll out training in 2019, ensure a broad set of employees get trained, and find a way to pay for it, because the cost wasn’t budgeted. New York State offers a model training, but it’s a slide deck of text that might not hold the attention of your employees. California’s training requirements dictate that training must be an hour long. New York City requires bystander training. All of it needs to be tracked.

How are you going to deliver a training that employees actually appreciate, that helps curb bad behavior and doesn’t take a huge amount of your time? And how are you going to pay for it?

Thankfully, Patti Perez, our VP of Workplace Strategy and expert on harassment prevention in the workplace, has some prescriptive and practical ideas to help:

First, you’ll need to make sure the right people in your organization are aware of the new mandate.


Given the non-stop breaking news cycle, you might have missed the latest from Sacramento. After making it through the California legislature, Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law on September 30, 2018, making it mandatory that companies like ours design and deploy sexual harassment prevention training to ALL employees.

New York

A few months ago, New York State and New York City passed new laws making it mandatory that companies like ours design and deploy sexual harassment prevention training to ALL employees. At the end of September, the New York State training requirements were finalized.

Second, you can share more details to help others understand the job ahead, and how significant it is:

In addition to making you aware of this new law, I thought it would be helpful to give you additional details since we have an incredibly short compliance time frame.

In short, we have to provide one-hour training sessions to all our employees (two-hours for managers) by

  • (California) January 1, 2020.
  • (New York) October 9, 2019.

That means that we need to start planning. We need to design the training, deploy the training, and set up administrative mechanisms to track the training.

  • Design: The first order of business is deciding whether to design our own training, hire consultants to provide live training, engage with an e-learning company to provide online training, or opt for a combination of these choices. No matter which method we use to deliver training, we need to make sure the legally-required content is included in the training.
  • Deploy: In addition to selecting a methodology, we need to develop a training calendar and start scheduling sessions as quickly as possible so that everyone receives training by the deadline.
  • Track: And, of course, we need to ensure compliance not only in terms of content, but also in terms of administrative details. We need to have a way to track the training to ensure we comply with requirements and must have an easy way to produce an audit-ready report to show everyone has been trained.

Third, if you want to roll out a training that your employees will really appreciate and one that positively impacts your corporate culture, you have a unique opportunity to do it now, as part of your legal requirement.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to give you my recommendations. What I’ve shared so far involves what we are legally required to do. However, we are not the kind of company that only wants to do the minimum. Every day includes a new story about allegations of misconduct, often about sexual harassment. And every day those stories include allegations not only of wrongful conduct, but of corporate indifference and of toxic workplace cultures.

I’m proud to work for a company that includes the need to have a healthy and inclusive workplace culture as a core value and sees this as an opportunity to send a message to our employees, our shareholders, our investors, and our prospective employees. That message is that we do more than just comply with the law— we foster a culture of respect, civility, and transparency.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be working diligently to gather the information needed to develop a comprehensive plan to not only provide the new legally-mandated training, but to use this as an opportunity to provide training that will enhance our employees’ communication and conflict-resolution skills.

I realize that my plan means we will need to adjust our training budget, but these new laws make it clear that we cannot implement a simple check-the-box compliance training program. Instead, we have a chance to make it clear that we are committed to giving all our employees the skills needed to create a place where they belong, where they feel heard, and where they will be treated with respect.

You’re welcome to use the language we’ve shared here.

In addition, we have other helpful resources:

  • Our blog post with details on the New York State and New York City laws
  • Our blog post with details on the California law
  • Preventing Workplace Harassment courses that meet the California and New York requirements
  • A table summarizing the various training requirements in New York and California:We hope this helps you inform your executives of the new requirements and socialize the opportunity to implement an amazing training. If we can help you with a demonstration of our Preventing Workplace Harassment course and a prepared quote for your budget ‘ask’ please Contact Us. We’d be delighted to work with you as your partner in training to help stop sexual harassment in the workplace.

CaliforniaNew Yorksexual harassment training
Laraine McKinnon
Talent and Culture Strategist Women's Advocate Former Managing Director at BlackRock
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