Emtrain Blog

Making Sense of the #MeToo Movement

Think about this. A company that promises a “harassment-free workplace" is like a restaurant that promises you won't get food poisoning. Promising a harassment-free workplace essentially says, “we promise we won’t break the law, but we guarantee nothing else.”Corporations have to do better. The #MeToo movement demands that companies do more than just not violate the law and dodge litigation. But if it's not compliance, what should companies focus on to really make a difference?

How to navigate the #MeToo movement

Please watch my new 2 1/2-minute video #MeToo At Work and find out how the #MeToo movement has changed the narrative while reminding us to focus on what really matters if we're going to drive meaningful changes in the workplace.

This is the first in a series of videos and resources to help HR, in-house counsel, executives and employees navigate their way through the changing workplace.

If you'd like to discuss ways in which your company can navigate the impact of the #MeToo movement, email us info@emtrain.com or call us at1.800.242.6099. We also offer a free, no obligation trial of our sexual harassment prevention training course.

How to Handle Claims of Harassment or Misconduct in a #MeToo World

The #MeToo movement has empowered people to speak up about inappropriate, sexually-charged behavior. But there are still lingering questions: Is it okay for me to handle issues myself? At what point should I escalate it? If I do escalate, what does that look like?

As a company leader, you are likely tasked with answering these questions and might be confused about the right answers. We’re here to help. I’m Patti Perez and I’m the VP of Workplace Strategy at Emtrain. As an attorney and workplace crisis manager, I've spent many years providing expert guidance to help resolve workplace issues.

What should you do if you’ve been exposed to sexually-charged or sexist behavior?

What if you find yourself in the uncomfortable position of being exposed to some level of misconduct at work? Well, if you’re experiencing anything similar to what we’ve heard about with Harvey Weinstein, you need to address it immediately. You can and should make a formal report internally and perhaps consider engaging an external attorney on your own.

But what if the behavior you're being exposed to is less severe, which is much more common in the workplace? Is there a blueprint or set of steps you can follow to address these situations? Is there language that is effective, powerful, and respects the rights and responsibilities of all parties?

Watch my latest video #MeToo If It Happened to Me and download my latest guide
What To Do If You've Been Sexually Harassed in the Workplace and you'll find several practical and doable approaches to handling very sensitive and difficult situations.

How Emtrain can help

Emtrain has developed powerful training courses that go the heart of the harassment problem, organizational culture. If you think that your organization would benefit from training and guidance in the time of the #MeToo movement, register for a no obligation, free course trial of our sexual harassment prevention course.

#MeToo and Sexual Harassment in the Workplace -- What If You Have Been the Offending Party?


With the #MeToo movement still going strong, it’s causing many to ask themselves either “has this happened to me?” or “did I do something like this to someone else?” It’s empowering victims to speak out while at the same time terrifying perpetrators to think about whether something they did in the past may cause them to be accused today. If you find yourself on the wrong side of this equation, know there are ways you can get back on the right side and help cultivate a healthier workplace for all of your coworkers. 

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Let’s start to break this fear wall down: first of all, if you’re generally a fair person and well liked by most people in your company, then you shouldn’t have much to fear. However, if you find yourself frequently acting like a jerk, a bully, playing favorites or pitting people against each other, then people will assume the worst of you and jump at the chance to call you out for misconduct. So if you fall in the latter category, you’ll have to work harder and start changing your behavior to give people a more positive impression of you.

Plain and simple, if you find yourself being accused of sexual misconduct -- APOLOGIZE. This may come as a shock to some of you, but all most people really want is a sincere and honest apology. They want to hear that you’re sorry and that you will never do something like that again (important note, “I’m sorry you feel this way” isn’t an apology). If you can empathize with how the other person feels, this shouldn’t be hard at all. Just imagine if a bully from your past came up to you and gave you a sincere apology, wouldn’t it make you have more compassion for that person? 

Now it’s time to evaluate your management style. Are you giving women a chance to lead? Are you seeking them out to mentor them in their careers? If not, then do something about that. Statistically, women are less represented in leadership the higher you go in a company. A hallmark of most harassment claims – and we’ve seen this over and over during the #MeToo movement – is that there is an imbalance in power. The results of this imbalance manifest themselves in the form of pay inequity, a lack of  women in key leadership positions (and even worse, no pipeline from which to promote women) and in some cases, the presence of sexually harassing behavior.

Empathy and awareness should be listed as key traits on every job description because they are work skills that everyone should have or hope to develop. Look, you can’t change the past, but you can change how you act today and that will change the future for all of us. 

4 Interesting Aspects of New York’s New Harassment Prevention Laws

4 Interesting Aspects of New York’s New Harassment Prevention LawsThe new New York State and New York City laws on sexual harassment prevention are the broadest of their kind. Here are some of their unique aspects, and our thoughts on why they matter.

Train Everyone

New York State mandates sexual harassment prevention training for all New York employees. New York City goes so far as to say that, for employers with 15 or more employees, even interns should receive training. We’re wholeheartedly behind the concept of training everyone. When everyone understands what sexual harassment is and how to prevent it, awareness and accountability spread, and there are fewer opportunities for incidents to occur or escalate.

Interactive Training

The New York State and New York City laws both reference interactive training, and it’s also a key element of the California harassment training regulations. Trainings may be considered interactive if the include audio-visuals and enable trainer-trainee interaction, whether they’re trainings done in person or online. Generally, lawmakers are looking for trainings that are more engaging for the learner. We believe that interactive training techniques help keep the learners’ attention and help the learner retain the information they’ve been taught.

Training Frequency

Annual training is a hallmark of both the NY State and NY City law. New York will be the first state to require yearly sexual harassment training. Given the harassment epidemic that the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have brought to light, annual training seems entirely reasonable.

Bystander Training

From a content perspective, the most interesting aspect of the New York City law is the requirement for harassment prevention to include bystander training. This speaks to the noble and practical intentions of the NY City legislature in truly trying to solve the problem. Bystander training helps teach how one should respond when you see something inappropriate happen. Here’s one of our micro-lessons that briefly walks through that all too common issue.

What to do when you see something inappropriate at work?

What to do when you see something inappropriate at work?

The Emtrain team is here to help you sort through the requirements that begin under New York State law, which goes into effect on October 9, 2018, and under the New York City law which goes into effect on April 1, 2019. Contact us for more information.

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T-Minus Ten Weeks: What Companies with New York-based Employees Must Do to Comply with Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Mandates

The preamble to the NY State legislation aimed at preventing workplace sexual harassment indicates that the bill is comprehensive and multi-faceted. It enacts an approach “to help prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, ensure accountability, and combat the culture of silence that victims face.” It goes on to say, “this bill will help ensure that all employees are provided with a safer work environment.” This language drives home a point that we see surfacing not only in New York, but throughout the country: State legislatures are taking a comprehensive and serious approach to tackle this complex issue. 

Our prediction? This is the beginning of a trend that will include enactment of mandatory harassment prevention training requirements in other parts of the country. But for now, the question is, how do New York employers comply?

New York’s sweeping harassment-prevention legislative scheme includes new mandates related to policies, arbitration agreements, and confidentiality (non-disclosure) agreements, among other topics. Central to the state’s goal of taking affirmative steps to protect New Yorkers from exposure to sexual harassment is a new mandatory training requirement.

Parallel to the state’s new laws, New York City (NYC) has also enacted its own mandates, including sexual harassment prevention training requirements.

With some mandates going into effect in a matter of weeks, employers with operations in New York state and/or New York City have questions about how to comply. We’ve compiled the most frequently asked questions about the new laws—and their answers:

  • When do the harassment prevention training laws go into effect?
    • The New York state law becomes effective on October 9, 2018.
    • The NYC law becomes effective on April 1, 2019.
  • Who must receive harassment prevention training?
    • In New York State, all employers (no matter what size) will be required to provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees.
    • The NYC law applies to employers with 15 or more employees and covers all workers who work in the City of New York. Under the City mandate, all employees (including interns) must receive the training.
  • How often must you train?
    • Both the state and city laws require annual training.
    • In NYC, new hires must receive training within 90 days of hire, unless they received training at a previous employer.
  • What type of training is required?
    • Both laws require interactive training.
    • Although the state law does not provide a definition of “interactive,” employers can look to the definition in the city law which defines interactive training as “participatory teaching whereby the trainee is engaged in a trainer-trainee interaction, use of audio-visuals, computer or online training program or other participatory forms of training as determined by the commission. However, such ‘interactive training’ is not required to be live or facilitated by an in-person instructor in order to satisfy the provisions of this subdivision.”
    • For online training, until New York drafts its own implementing regulations, the best practice is to follow the detailed guidance outlined in California’s AB1825 regulations. In short, interaction for online training means 1) the course cannot be “plug-and-play” (it must require learners to advance through sections, answer questions, watch scenarios, etc.) and 2) the learner must be able to ask the training developers (who must be subject matter experts) questions and have those questions answered within a few days.
  • What training content is required?
    • For the most part, both laws coincide in terms of content. Although worded in slightly different ways, both laws require that the training address:
    • The definition of unlawful sexual harassment
    • Examples of unlawful harassment (the City law says the training should discuss what harassment is and isn’t through the use of practical examples)
    • Information on how to report harassment, both internally and externally
    • An explanation of retaliation and a statement regarding the prohibition of retaliatory conduct
    • An explanation for supervisors to help them understand their responsibilities – to refrain from engaging in harassing conduct, and to report misconduct they observe or know about
    • See the below table that further outlines the specific content requirements.
  • What are the unique aspects of the NYC law regarding content and record-keeping?
    • The NYC law specifically requires that the training cover bystander intervention. Although the State law does not have a similar requirement, all state employers should strongly consider including bystander training in their harassment prevention programs.
    • The City law also requires employers to generate and maintain records of all training sessions, including signed acknowledgments. These records must be kept for three years. Again, although the State did not address this specific requirement, it’s always a best practice to keep these types of training records.
  • Will further guidance and model programs be available?
    • The State law directs the New York Department of Labor to consult with the state’s Division of Human Rights to ”produce a model sexual harassment prevention training program to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.” Employers can use this model training program, or can another training provider, as long as the training they select meets or exceed the legal requirements. The Department is scheduled to release this model program prior to the enactment date (October 9, 2018).
    • Similarly, the NYC law instructs NYC Commission on Human Rights to “develop an online interactive training module that may be used by an employer as an option to satisfy” the training requirements, provided that “an employer shall inform all employees of any internal complaint process available to employees through their employer to address sexual harassment claims.” Like the State law, the NYC law makes it clear that the model policy establishes a minimum threshold and does not prohibit an employer from providing more frequent or additional training.
    • We should also expect the corresponding State and City agencies to draft clarifying regulations, although there is no timeline on completing that work.

Takeaways and Action Items

TRAINING. Since the State and City requirements overlap in some instances but differ in others, the best practice will be to meet the more rigorous standards to ensure compliance. We recommend:

  • Design and immediately begin to schedule annual training sessions for ALL employees and develop a training calendar to ensure all employees are trained every year. Make sure your training methodology incorporates a mechanism through which employees can acknowledge they have completed the training.
  • Make sure new hires are either trained upon hire, or obtain proof that they received adequate training at a previous employer.
  • For content, make sure to provide definitions and examples – not only of unlawful harassment, but less severe but prohibited behavior that, if left unaddressed, could escalate. See the below for additional content detail.
  • Content should also address complaint mechanisms, issues related to retaliation, and bystander intervention.
  • Make sure the training is interactive, including giving employees the ability to ask questions and have them answered by the subject matter experts who develop the training.
  • Make sure you maintain records and that you have a mechanism through which you can easily produce a report to show compliance

A Side-by-Side Comparison of New York and NYC Harassment Prevention Laws Content Requirements

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