WWYLD – 2/27/18 – Sexual Harassment Training

February 27, 2018 |

We’re excited to tell you about a new development here on the Foley & Foley blog.  Each week, we’ll be posting a “What Would Your Lawyer Do” article that will present our thoughts on an interesting employment law question.  It may be an answer to a question that arises in your world all the time.  Or, maybe it’s a question you’ve never faced before.   Either way, we hope you’ll find the questions and answers interesting, informative, and – if we’re really on a roll – entertaining.

Question: Which states require sexual harassment training?  Where required, what does training have to look like?  And, how do I know which employees must take the training? 

Three states, California, Connecticut, and Maine, require that private employers conduct sexual harassment training.  Multiple additional states require that public employers provide training.  And, many states do not specifically require training, but strongly recommend it and cite the delivery of training as a way to lower risk and demonstrate adherence to anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws.

  • California
    • Who must conduct training?  Any employer that operates in the state of California and has at least 50 employees.  The number of employees is based on total employees, not just those in California.  Therefore, if an employer has just one employee in California, but at total of 50 or more, the employer is subject to the California law.
    • Who must participate in training?  Supervisors who themselves are employed in California.  It’s the supervisor’s location that matters.  If a Massachusetts-based supervisor supervises California-based employees, that supervisor is not required to participate in training.  The law broadly defines “supervisor” as someone “with authority to hire, fire, assign, transfer, discipline, or reward other employee” or “anyone with the authority to effectively recommend (but not take) these actions, if exercising that authority requires the use of independent judgment.”
    • What are the specifications of the training?  Training must occur within 6 months of the individual becoming a supervisor and every two years thereafter.  Training must be at least two hours in duration and take place in an interactive setting where questions can be answered by a trainer.  Training must cover specific topics and include methods for assessing comprehension.
  • Connecticut
    • Who must conduct training?  Any employer that operates in the state of Connecticut and has at least 50 employees.  Like California, Connecticut bases the number of employees on total employees, not just those in Connecticut.
    • Who must participate in training?  Unlike California, Connecticut looks at the location of the person being supervised.  To comply with Connecticut law, employers must provide training to any supervisor who supervises a Connecticut employee.  Connecticut defines a supervisor as: “any individual who has the authority, by using her or his independent judgement, in the interest of the employer, to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward or discipline other employees, or responsibility to direct them, or to adjust their grievances or effectively to recommend such actions.”
    • What are the specifications of the training?  Training must occur within 6 months of the individual becoming a supervisor.  Subsequent training is not required, but the state recommends that employers provide training every three years to cover any changes in the law.  Training must be at least two hours in duration and take place in a “classroom like setting” that allows participants to ask questions and receive answers.
  • Maine
    • Who must conduct training?  Any employer that operates in the state of Maine and has at least 15 employees in Maine.  Unlike California and Connecticut, Maine looks only at the number of employees in the state.  If an employer has 15 employees in Maine, but they are quite decentralized, the employer may be exempt from providing the required training.
    • Who must participate in training?  Maine’s requirement is not limited to supervisors – all Maine-based employees must take training within one year of hire.
    • What are the specifications of the training?  Maine doesn’t have a specific required duration or format for the training, but does provide a checklist of content that must be covered.

Have questions on required training?  Need assistance developing training sessions?  Looking to update your sexual harassment policy?  We can help. 

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