Senate Dems defend their training schedule for employees
ALBANY — New York businesses that haven’t completed new sexual harassment prevention trainings for their employees are out of compliance with state law.
Employers had until Wednesday to comply with a mandate from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state lawmakers, which was spurred by activists and intended to foster harassment-free workplaces.
All employers were required last year to offer a handbook detailing their sexual harassment prevention policies, and then given a year to ensure all employees — regardless of their immigration status and whether they’re part-time, seasonal, temporary or minors — complete an interactive training.
Andrew Rawson, co-founder of Traliant, which offers online compliance training, is skeptical that the vast majority of businesses in New York have complied with the law, as it doesn’t carry any penalties and the state can’t easily check for compliance.
His company has signed up more than 500 businesses this year for trainings, with about half of them coming in the last three months.
“It’s the smaller businesses that don’t have the resources to do a lot of planning that have come flooding in at the end,” Rawson said.
For small businesses, often without a dedicated human resources staff, he said it can be difficult to understand what is required.
That ambiguity extends to the state Senate, which offered a training in March of last year and is planning another training in November, according to Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy.
Regulations produced last October, which included new minimum standards of training, gave employees until Oct. 9 to complete their training and requires employees be trained at least once per year.
Murphy maintains that the March training fulfilled the requirement for the deadline that passed, and said the scheduled training for next month will meet the recurring annual requirement.
The November training will be the first for Senate employees hired in the last year and a half. The law requires them to be trained “as soon as practicable.”
“We are completely in compliance with the current law,” Murphy said.
The Senate controversy was first reported by Politico New York.
When asked if the March training met the additional standards imposed a few months later, he reiterated that they’re in compliance.
Rawson noted that employers who provided a training before last October may need to provide “supplemental training” if the additional requirements weren’t covered previously.