EXPLAINER: What is the sexual harassment training Gov. Cuomo claims to have taken?

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his State of the State address virtually from The War Room at the state Capitol, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, Pool)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – During his press conference on March 3, Governor Cuomo said he had completed the annual sexual harassment prevention training his administration mandated for everyone employed in New York State. Since October 8, 2019, every employer in the state has been required to provide the training for their employees.

The definition of “employee” is broad, including, all workers, regardless of immigration status, minors, exempt or non-exempt employees, part-time workers, seasonal workers, and temporary workers.

As they are liable from the moment an employee starts work, employers are encouraged to provide the training for new employees as soon as possible. The “annual” component can be based on the calendar year, anniversary of each employee’s start date, or any other date the employer chooses.

The model does specify additional training for those in supervisory or management roles, which Governor Cuomo would qualify for.

For those refusing the training, the state recommends Employers take “appropriate administrative remedies” to deal with the situation.

Providing the training does not give employers immunity from sexual harassment charges.

Providing employees with training does not constitute a conclusive defense to charges of unlawful sexual harassment. Each claim of sexual harassment will be determined in accordance with existing legal standards, with due consideration of the particular facts and circumstances of the claim, including but not limited to the existence of an effective anti-harassment policy and procedure.

The state provides a training model for employers to use, though they can use a sexual harassment prevention training program from a different source provided it meets New York’s minimum standards.

The New York State website says the training must:

  • 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

The training was introduced as part of the 2018 Women’s Opportunity Agenda, aimed at helping women succeed across work, health, safety, education and family life.

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