State-Specific Harassment Prevention Mandates: The Emerging Reality for Multi-State Employers
For more than thirty years, sexual harassment has been a recognized form of discrimination prohibited by federal and state employment discrimination laws. Prudent employers have thus long recognized written policies and training to be essential risk management tools for combating sexual harassment in the workplace.
Recently, the effectiveness of employer policies and training has come into question. A June 2016 Report of the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace noted: “Much of the training done over the last 30 years has not worked as a prevention tool—it’s been too focused on simply avoiding legal liability.”
Although the June 2016 EEOC Report set forth only recommendations for effective sexual harassment training, some state legislatures have gone further. On April 12, 2018, New York joined California, Connecticut, and Maine in prescribing sexual harassment prevention measures which must be undertaken by private employers.
These state prescriptions include not only the content and form of harassment policies, but also the content, form, timing, frequency, length, trainer qualifications, and proof of attendance requirements of harassment training. Although much of the prescribed content can be used in any state, some of the prescribed content is state-specific.