Many farm employers are using the winter months to accomplish necessary business tasks and human resources tasks. For New York employers, sexual harassment training should be high on the list to get done. There are questions in the farm employer community about the training requirements so I wanted to focus on those with this article.
- When must farm employers provide their employees with training? The new law took effect October 9, 2018 and that was the date by which employers were required to put a sexual harassment prevention policy in place. Employers have until October 9, 2019 to complete the required training with all current employees. After that, all employees should be re-trained annually and new employees should be train “as soon as possible, but certainly no later than one month from their start date. New employees should be given a copy of the sexual harassment prevention policy at the time they start work.
- What resources are available to provide sexual harassment prevention training? Many companies have required sexual harassment prevention training for all employees for many years already, so there are many training programs, online courses, videos and other materials available from training vendors. Generally, the existing resources are based on federal law as summarized by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. New York’s new law is also based on this federal definition of sexual harassment law but it contains a few new requirements for employers so using an older training or one from outside New York may not fully meet New York’s requirements. New York has released a model sexual harassment prevention policy and training support materials. The training materials are available in multiple formats including Microsoft Word, Adobe PDF, and PowerPoint.
- Sexual Harassment Prevention Model Training is a 23-page script that you can share with employees and use as a script for your training.
- Sexual Harassment Prevention Training is a presentation (PowerPoint) designed for an employer to use as visual aid while completing the training.
- Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Case Studies is a set of 6 case studies for use with the presentation to help illustrate harassing situations.
- Training videos are also available which you can show to your employees. There are two roughly 30-minute videos, one goes over sexual harassment in general, and the other reviews the 6 case studies.
- How should farm employers complete the training? New York’s law outlines a set of minimum standards that sexual harassment prevention training must meet. Employers must meet or exceed the minimum standards, either by using the state’s model training or a custom training. The state included 6 features that training must include, we’ll explore these in detail at the upcoming Labor Road Show.
- Be interactive.
- Include an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights.
- Include examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment.
- Include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment.
- Include information concerning employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints.
- Include information addressing conduct by supervisors and any additional responsibilities for such supervisors.
- How should farm employers document that they did the training? There’s no specific guidance in the new law on documenting training. Employers should use a best practices such as providing a certificate of completion to each participant, getting the participant to sign it, and then filing in the employee file. Or, keeping a log of who attended the training and getting each participant to sign the attendance log, keep this log in your permanent training file. I also recommend learning to use online storage systems so that you can scan these training logs and keep track of when employees have completed training and are due for refresher training.
- What if my employees don’t speak English? Employees should be trained in the language they speak and understand. The state has translated all of the model policies and training materials into 6 different languages including Spanish and Haitian-Creole. You can find these translated materials by simply scrolling down each page where the English language materials are found.
Join us for the upcoming Labor Road Show II where Attorney Michael Sciotti will answer all of your questions about sexual harassment prevention.
- Mon. Jan. 28, 2019, Livingood’s Restaurant, 697 Bear Swamp RD, Peru, NY
- Tues, Jan. 29, 2019, Cornell Cooperative Extension – Saratoga County, Ballston Spa, NY
- Weds, Jan. 30, 2019, New York State Fairgrounds, Art & Home Center Building, Syracuse, NY
- Thurs, Jan. 31, 2019, Cornell Cooperative Extension – Ontario County, Canandaigua, NY
By Richard Stup, Cornell University. Permission granted to repost, quote, and reprint with author attribution.
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