Sexual Harassment Training Requirements by State

As the #MeToo movement has grown over the past two years, and claims against powerful individuals continue to surface in the media and on social media, employers and companies need to adjust their response polices as one thing is clear: sexual claims are very real, very expensive, and very destructive.

The following cases are real-world examples of how sexual harassment claims can cost employers in terms of time, money, and employee morale, and can cause pain and distress to employees.

  • A recent claim against the popular P.F. Chang’s China Bistro chain cost the company $1 million in response to two employees claims that they were repeatedly sexually harassed and were subjected to a hostile work environment.
  • Two female employees at a California winery were subject to repeated sexual harassment by the winery’s general manager and then subsequently retaliated against by the company. A Los Angeles jury awarded $11 million dollars to the two women. Each woman received $1 million for past emotional distress; $1.5 million for future emotional distress and $3 million in punitive damages. In addition to the $11 million dollars to the women, their attorneys will also receive their attorney’s fees.
  • Ford announced it would pay up to $10.1 million to settle a racial- and sexual-harassment investigation at two Chicago plants. 

In 2016, 12,860 sexual harassment charges were filed with the EEOC, and of the 23,510 total cases that were filed with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) in 2016, 17% were harassment or gender-based.  However, many more instances go unreported.

In the intervening years, these cases have continued to surface and the social movement around them has gained momentum. In response, more and more states have implemented either mandatory sexual harassment prevention laws, or added recommended training protocols to their state codes as a means of encouraging employers to protect themselves against these costly lawsuits.

As of June 25, 2019, nearly half of all US states have various training requirements. Seven states require training for all employers of a certain size, fourteen states require training for public sector employers, and nine states have training recommendations in their state codes.

As of June 25, 2019, the following states have training requirements: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, NJ, NY, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. The following states recommend, but don’t require training: Idaho, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Find out where your offices fall on the spectrum of the state-specific codes and laws below:

StateTraining RequiredEffective DateFrequency
California All Employers with 5+ employeesJanuary 1, 2019– Initial training by January 1, 2020 or within 6 months of hiring

– Every two years after the initial training

See our blog for more training requirements and recommendations.
ConnecticutAll Employers with 3+ employeesOctober 1, 2019– Initial training by October 1, 2020 or within 6 months of hiring
Delaware All Employers with 50+ employeesJanuary 1, 2019– Initial training by January 1, 2020 or within 1 year of hiring

– Every two years after the initial training
District of ColumbiaTipped employees
and DC government employees
July 1, 2019* Pending Congressional budget approval– Initial training within two years of enactment or within 90 days of hiring

– Every two years after the initial training
Florida None
Georgia None
HawaiiAll Employers
IdahoRecommended; not required
IllinoisPublic employersMust be a component of new employee training programs
KansasPublic employersAll employees need to complete the online harassment training program
KentuckyPublic employersEvery two years
LouisianaPublic employersJanuary 1, 2019Every year
MaineAll Employers with 15+ employeesWithin 1 year of hiring
MassachusettsAll EmployersWithin 1 year of hiring
MississippiPublic employersAll employees need to complete the online harassment training program
NebraskaRecommended; not required
NevadaPublic employers– Initial training within 6 months of hiring

– Every two years after the initial training
New HampshireNone
New JerseyPublic employersAll employees need to complete the state harassment training program
New MexicoNone
New YorkAll Employers
As of 10/09/18,
all private and public employers in the State of New York are required to conduct annual anti-harassment training for all employees and distribute a written anti-harassment policy. The training must be interactive.
October 9, 2019– Initial training by October 9, 2019

– Every year thereafter
North CarolinaPublic employers
North DakotaNone
OhioRecommended; not required
OregonRecommended; not required
PennsylvaniaPublic employersAll public employees of the government of Pennsylvania employees need to complete the online harassment training program
Rhode IslandRecommended; not required
South CarolinaNone
South DakotaRecommended; not required
TennesseePublic employersAll employees need to complete the state harassment training program
Texas All state employees must receive employment discrimination training, which includes sexual harassment issues, within 30 days of the start of employment. Training must be repeated every two years thereafter.– Initial training within 30 days of hiring

– Every two years after the initial training
UtahPublic employers– Initial training upon hiring

– Every two years after the initial training
VermontRecommended; not required
VirginiaPublic employersJanuary 1, 2019All employees need to complete the online harassment training program once every two years
WashingtonPublic employers
West VirginiaRecommended; not required
WisconsinRecommended; not required

Check with legal counsel in your state about scheduling harassment prevention training, ensuring that your company complies with posting requirements, and developing and distributing an anti-harassment policy to employees.

The Grady Firm, P.C. attorneys specialize in helping businesses grow and succeed through employment, business, and immigration law advising for clients. The Grady Firm attorneys provide the following employment law services:

  • On-site, classroom-style Sexual Harassment training for employees and supervisors;
  • “Experiential” supervisor training in which managerial employees practice processing a harassment complaint and commencing an investigation in pairs with other trainees. Draft and review Employee Handbooks, arbitration agreements, and Anti-Harassment policies;
  • Conduct employee personnel file audits;
  • Create accounts and assist with E-Verify monitoring;
  • Assist with the employee on-boarding, discipline, and termination process;
  • Advise as to medical leave policies and implementation; and
  • Defend employer when they are sued by current or former employees.

To learn more about ensuring your business is compliant with state and local laws, schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s attorneys; call +1 (323) 450-9010; or fill out a Contact Request Form.  The Grady Firm has offices in Beverly Hills, Irvine, and San Diego, California.

*Jennifer A. Grady, Esq. is licensed to practice employment law in California.

This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney.

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