Anti-sexual harassment training for NYC businesses based on real experiences

The anti-sexual harassment training is required under the city's 2018 Stop Sexual Harassment Act.
The anti-sexual harassment training is required under the city’s 2018 Stop Sexual Harassment Act. Photo Credit: Todd Maisel

A new anti-sexual harassment training video released by the city Monday uses scenarios that are based on real cases in an effort to resonate with everyday experiences.

“We really wanted to speak to the diversity of people’s experiences with sexual harassment, so not just one type of worker who’s in an office,” said Carmelyn P. Malalis, the commissioner of the City’s Commission on Human Rights, which created the training. 

As of Monday, annual anti-sexual harassment training is required for New York City businesses with 15 employees or more, under the city’s 2018 Stop Sexual Harassment Act. The CCHR’s training, which was released in English and Spanish and will be available in nine other languages later this spring, is in compliance with the act, as well as the state’s requirements.

The interactive training includes examples of people of different gender identities, races, documentation statuses and incomes facing sexual harassment. The desire to include a wide range of examples stemmed from a public hearing the commission held in December 2017, where more than 20 people from various industries, including hospitality, retail, domestic work, construction, fashion and entertainment, testified about their experiences with sexual harassment. 

“We wanted (the training) to speak to people,” Malalis said. “Not just speak to the experiences of people who have experienced sexual harassment and been victimized by it. We wanted it to speak to people in the workplace who may do some of the things that some of the bad actors in our training are doing or saying, and say, ‘Oh my God, I’ve done that … I didn’t know that that was wrong.’”

The training also includes bystander intervention and a video by the Honest Accomplice Theater, a Brooklyn nonprofit, that explains different gender identities to help reinforce that sexual harassment can affect anyone. 

As of March, the CCHR is investigating 519 claims of gender discrimination, 135 of which involve sexual or gender-based harassment, a spokeswoman said. Violators of the city’s anti-discrimination laws can be fined up to $250,000.

The commission will send mailers in English and Spanish to more than 275,000 small businesses across the city explaining how to access the training, which can be completed on a computer, tablet or phone. There also willbe ads on LinkedIn, Google and Facebook.