Harassment Training Requirements by State

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Employer responsibilities for workplace harassment training

An employer is responsible for taking reasonable steps to ensure their employees’ safety and well-being. Employers must comply with federal laws when they hire employees. These include things like minimum wage requirements, overtime pay rules, workers’ compensation coverage, health insurance benefits for part-time employees, and more.

When it comes to harassment prevention training, the law can be less clear and requirements vary from state to state. Some states require employers to conduct certain types of anti-harassment training before they begin employing new employees. Tracking these laws helps companies align their policies with required and recommended practices against offensive behaviors in the workplace and, most importantly, enables employers to better align with their overall workplace culture goals.

We’ll look into some best practices for harassment training that are recommended by the Federal Government, in addition to individual state harassment training requirements.

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Harassment training recommendations from the federal government and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The federal U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is responsible for enforcing federal laws that combat employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including expectant individuals, transgender status, and sexual orientation), nation of origin, age, disability or genetic information.

Employers with 15 or more employees are covered by EEOC laws, as well as the majority of labor unions and employment agencies. The EEOC’s stated mission is:

Prevent and remedy unlawful employment discrimination and advance equal opportunity for all in the workplace.

The EEOC carries the authority to investigate and litigate instances of harassment as well as assist, advise and train federal agencies in addressing harassment-related remediation.

While federal law does not currently explicitly require harassment prevention-related training or certification, the EEOC has issued strong guidance strongly encouraging employers to provide harassment prevention training to all employees, ensuring they understand their workplace rights and responsibilities.

The importance of this training has been borne out in major cases such as Kolstad v. American Dental Association and Swinton v. Potomac Corporation and Clark v. UPS all of which demonstrate the legal risks organizations bear when an anti-harassment policy and training is not properly implemented.

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Harassment training requirements by state

Unlike the federal level, numerous state-level governments have already implemented specific harassment-related training requirements with legal accountability and penalties behind them.

While not all states have enforced these sorts of training requirements, the landscape of harassment-related training compliance is evolving constantly and an increasing number of states are enforcing such training policies and requirements.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of state-by-state harassment training requirements:

Alabama

The state of Alabama does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Alaska

The state of Alaska does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Arizona

The state of Arizona does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Arkansas

The state of Arkansas does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

California

In 2005 (and later revised and expanded in 2018) California implemented legislation requiring specific anti-harassment training requirements be met by all businesses with five or more employees. Harassment prevention training must be provided in an ongoing fashion every two years to both supervisory and non-supervisory employees. New hires and newly promoted supervisory employees must undergo the training within six months of starting their positions. 

Seasonal or temporary employees must be trained within 30 calendar days of employment or before 100 hours of work are reached.  If the individual is a temporary employee provided by an outside agency to perform work for a client, the agency is responsible for providing the required training. Additional details and requirements can be found in this summary. Legislation details and verbiage can be found here.

>> Read more: How to report sexual harassment in California

Colorado

The state of Colorado does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. However, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission Rules and Regulations specifically recommends “preventative action” to “take all steps necessary to prevent discrimination, including harassment, from occurring, such as: … promulgating and distributing an anti-discrimination policy, training … and developing methods to sensitize all concerned.”

Connecticut

Connecticut sexual harassment training is mandatory as a result of the Times Up Act, which requires, among other things, that employers: 

  • Provide employees with a copy that outlines the illegality of harassment and remedies available to victims of harassment within three months of their hire date.
  • Employers with three or more employees must provide two hours of mandatory harassment training to all current employees and all new hires within six months of their hire date.
  • Employers with less than three employees must provide two hours of harassment training to employees in supervisory positions within six months of their state date or entry into the supervisory position.
  • Employers are required to provide ongoing supplemental harassment training every ten years.
  • The training must include federal and state statutes regarding sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment.

>> Read more: How to report sexual harassment in Connecticut

Delaware

The state of Delaware has implemented a statute that requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide sexual harassment training to all current employees and all new hires within one year of their hire date. All employees must renew this training every two years.

Additional training requirements are specified for employees in supervisory roles and must be provided within one year of entering a supervisory position.

Additional details can be found in Delaware’s Discrimination in Employment Act.

District of Columbia

The District of Columbia requires specific regulations be met concerning ‘tipped’ employees, requiring all employees in both supervisory and non-supervisory roles to complete training within 90 days of hire, and supervisors and business owners must undergo the harassment training every two years.  Additional details can be found in the related legislation here.

Additional requirements and resources are available from the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights.

Florida

The State of Florida does not implement private business requirements for harassment prevention training but does require harassment prevention training within the state executive agencies. The details of these requirements are outlined in the Florida Administrative Code Personnel Rules.

Georgia

The state of Alabama does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Hawaii

The state of Hawaii does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Idaho

The state of Idaho does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Illinois

The State of Illinois requires that all employees with one or more employees implement harassment prevention training annually. The Illinois Department of Human Rights provides guidelines for the training, which must include:

  • A definition of sexual harassment that is aligned with that of the Illinois Department of Human Rights.
  • Example scenarios of harassment.
  • A summary of the federal and state laws regarding harassment.
  • A list of resources available to victims of harassment.
  • A brief of the employer’s responsibilities regarding harassment prevention, training, and response.

Indiana

The state of Indiana does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Iowa

The state of Iowa does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance. The state does encourage all state executive branch government employees to attend harassment prevention-related training.

Kansas

The state of Kansas does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations for private businesses but does require employees of the executive agencies to complete annual anti-harassment training, via Executive Order 18-04.

Kentucky

The state of Kentucky does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Louisiana

The state of Louisiana does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Maine

Private employers in Maine with 15 or more employees must implement harassment prevention training within one year of the employee hire date. Employees in supervisory roles must undergo additional training. Additional details of training requirements are found in Maine’s Statute 26

Maryland

The state of Maryland does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance. The Maryland Commission on Civil Rights does provide specific guidance and training resources.

Massachusetts

The state of Massachusetts does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations, however current state legislation strongly encourages specific harassment prevention training for supervisory and non-supervisory roles.

Michigan

The state of Michigan does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Minnesota

The state of Minnesota does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Mississippi

The state of Mississippi does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Missouri

The state of Missouri does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Montana

The state of Montana does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Nebraska

The state of Nebraska does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Nevada

The state of Nevada does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations for private employers. Harassment training is required for state employees under Nevada Administrative Code 284.496, which requires training within six months of an individual’s start date, and retraining every two years.

New Hampshire

The state of New Hampshire does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

New Jersey

The state of New Jersey does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations for private employees. However, it does require training for all state government employees, with additional training for state employees in supervisory roles, as laid out in the New Jersey State Policy Prohibiting Discrimination in the Workplace

Training must occur “within a reasonable period of time” after hire and state employees responsible for investigating harassment incidents must receive additional training as well as undergo a refresher course every three years. 

New Mexico

The state of New Mexico does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations for private employers. However, all licensed school employees in primary and secondary education must undergo annual harassment prevention training, as specified in State Legislation 6.60.9.9 (C)(11).

New York

New York harassment training requirements dictate that all private employees undergo annual harassment prevention training as modeled by the State including an optional workplace harassment prevention poster.

Additionally, New York City has implemented Local Law 96 which specifies additional training requirements requiring all businesses employing 15 or more employees (full-time employees and part-time employees that work more than 80 hours a year) to provide harassment prevention training within 90 days of hire. The New York City Commission on Human Rights has created a model of online harassment prevention training.

North Carolina

The state of North Carolina does not currently have any state-specific harassment prevention training regulations for private businesses but does require state agencies to implement training per Administrative Code 01J.1101.

North Dakota

The state of North Dakota does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Ohio

The state of Ohio does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Oklahoma

The state of Oklahoma does not currently have any state-specific harassment prevention training regulations for private businesses but does require state agencies to implement training for employees who are responsible for investigating harassment incidents, per Oklahoma Statute Title 74

Oregon

The state of Oregon does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Pennsylvania

The state of Pennsylvania does not currently have any state-specific harassment prevention training regulations for private businesses but does require all state employees to complete a state-developed course called “Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Prevention” as well as implement additional training for state employees in supervisory roles. Course materials, manuals, and lesson plans can be found here

Puerto Rico (U.S. Territory)

Puerto Rico has passed Act 90-2020 which requires all employers to establish an anti-harassment policy, post notices of said policy publicly, and provide general harassment prevention education regarding the established policy and resources available to victims.

Rhode Island

The state of Rhode Island does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations but strongly encourages employers to implement specific training, as laid out in Rhode Island General Law Title 28 Chapter 51.

South Carolina

The state of South Carolina does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance

South Dakota

The state of South Dakota does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Tennessee

The state of Tennessee does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations for private employers but does require the state’s Department of Human Resources to collaborate with all state agencies in providing harassment prevention training, per Tennessee Code Title 4.

Texas

The state of Texas does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations for private employers. Per Texas Labor Code Section 21.010, state agencies must implement state-designed training for all employees within 30 days of hire and every two years thereafter. 

Utah

The state of Utah does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations for private employers. Per Utah Admin Code R477-15-6, all state agencies must undergo state-approved training for all employees, with retraining every two years thereafter. 

Vermont

The state of Vermont does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Virginia

The state of Virginia does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations for private employers. Per Virginia Code Section 30-129.4, all legislative branch employees must undergo online harassment prevention training which must provide a personal certificate of completion, Retraining is required every two years thereafter. 

Washington

The state of Washington does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations for private employers. Per Executive Order 89-01, all state agency employees are required to undergo some form of harassment prevention training.

West Virginia

The state of West Virginia does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Wisconsin

The state of Wisconsin does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

Wyoming

The state of Wyoming does not currently have any state-specific harassment regulations. Harassment training is strongly advised by federal guidance.

WiseDaily: Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
  • Bite-sized, mobile-friendly courses in more than 30 categories
  • State-compliant sexual harassment prevention training
  • Individual, company-wide, and customized memberships available
  • Members get exclusive perks and up to $4,500 in savings on dozens of expenses and experiences

Sources

2016 Report from the Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace 

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