The movie Rent is about a group of friends living in New York City trying their best to make it as artists. One of the characters named Angel is riding on the subway when a funky beat starts to play.
“New York City,” he declares, “center of the Universe.”
In a sense, he’s right. While Washington, D.C. may be the official capital of the United States, New York City acts as a kind of cultural capital for the nation.
Up and coming artists, groundbreaking television, and some of the world’s best food are all located there. It’s called the city that never sleeps. It’s the only place to see a Broadway play or check out the Statue of Liberty. And also, it’s part of what makes America great.
But it isn’t just these things that make New York great. The rest of the country also looks to New York for groundbreaking social programs. Many things first rolled out in this great city have spread across the nation: recycling, food delivery, and sketch comedy have all changed the face of the country forever.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the new requirements for New York sexual harassment training and how they will be implemented.
1. Employers Are Required to Perform Annual Training
New laws designate that all companies with more than fifteen employees are required to conduct training every year for all of their employees.
This means that everyone – from the mail room up to the board room – has to undergo the same training.
If you’re having flashbacks to fidgeting in your seat at school, bored and wishing you could be outside flying a kite with your cousin, Barry, have no fear. There are companies that offer training modules online that can be completed in as little as one hour.
That means that you can complete it at your own pace and still be complying with state standards. Click here for more information about New York State’s Human Rights campaign.
2. Training Empowers Employees
We all know that knowledge is power.
Common subjects for sexual harassment training include what to do if you witness an instance of abuse.
Being an outside observer can be as uncomfortable as being inside the troublesome situation. In the past, many people have chosen to follow their instincts when they find themselves in this situation.
Most people want to go along to get along. They might not speak up for fear of suffering retaliation for themselves. Or they might try to laugh it off in order to show that it isn’t a big deal.
All of these methods for handling the situation give the abuser power. They feel emboldened. Not only will their behavior not change, statistics show it is likely to get worse over time.
But an employee who knows their rights can become a powerful force. They know that telling a harasser to stop or that their behavior is unacceptable is a great first step towards eliminating harassment.
In many instances, a harasser is not even aware of their problematic behavior. Being able to identify and call it out is extremely important.
An employee who knows their rights also knows that they are protected from retaliation under current US legislation. That means that they can be neither terminated nor demoted for speaking out when the time is right. Click the link: https://www.eeoc.gov/youth/harassment-faqs-1#Q4 for more information about the US Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.
3. Employees Must be Given Specific Examples of Harassment
For a training program to meet the state guidelines, it has to go beyond just the definition of the term. It also has to give specific examples to help illustrate what is and is not appropriate in the work place.
It may seem obvious that everyone deserves a safe place to work. But real life is seldom as cut and dry as textbooks make it seem. Examples can help to flesh out a program and help employees see where their behavior, or that of their colleagues, needs to be amended or improved in order to meet legal standards.
A good program might talk about whether it would be appropriate for a supervisor to conduct all meetings with one of his staff sitting on his lap. Some might think it would be all right, as long as the person on his lap was a male.
This is untrue. Anyone can be sexually harassed by anyone of any gender. Men can harass men and vice versa.
Or some might think that it is nothing more than an innocent joke to refer to their female colleagues as “baby making factories.” While their intentions might not have been to demean or diminish anyone, the joke is probably seen that way by its subjects.
Creating a safe workplace is in everyone’s benefit. Through applying new standards, New York is set to move the country forward into the new century.