This article was originally published in Newsday. Read it here.
By Jamie Herzlich
As summer begins to fade away, an Oct. 9 deadline looms on sexual harassment prevention training for all employees.
Late last year, New York employers were given a nine-month extension from an original Jan. 1 state proposed deadline.
Now employers are encouraged to not delay. All employers regardless of size must train their workers, experts say.
“Don’t put your head in the sand and wake up and it’s Oct. 10 and you’re not in compliance,” says Christine Malafi, a senior partner at Ronkonkoma-based Campolo, Middleton & McCormick LLP, which has been administering training for clients.
She said some firms are scrambling now that the deadline is fast approaching. Smaller firms in particular may not realize the training is required.
Still, it’s not too late to comply with the law, says Malafi, noting, “I think no one’s behind the eight ball yet.”
Among the requirements: The training must be interactive, include examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment, and include information on employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints.
State legislation awaiting the governor’s signature lowers the standard on what could be considered unlawful harassment from conduct deemed “severe or pervasive” to conduct rising above the level of “petty slights and trivial inconveniences.” If signed, that law could alter training down the line.
There’s no minimum required number of hours, says Malafi, whose training takes about an hour for employees and double that for managers and supervisors. “The new law makes it clear that managers and supervisors have heightened duties under the law,” she says, noting companies should be proactive in completing the training.
Carmine Inserra, CEO of ProSysCon Computer Technologies Inc. consultants in East Setauket, agrees.
He and his employees were trained in May by Malafi in a group session organized by the Three Village Chamber of Commerce. “First and foremost,” he says, “I want to promote a safe work environment regardless of the law.”