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Does Your State Require Sexual Harassment Prevention Training?

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

This article provides valuable information on the definition of sexual harassment, the procedures to take if an employee reported a claim, disciplinary actions, and state-by-state requirements. Some states have mandatory training, whereas others are encouraged.

Regardless of the state, you are in, this training should not be taken as an optional measure. If employers fail to take claims seriously, they could be dealing with legal action.

What Is Sexual Harassment Training?

Sexual Harassment training exists to bring about offenders and educate everyone in the workplace about inappropriate actions. It is important to implement the training in all businesses for employees to understand appropriate actions and disciplinary procedures for enforcement. This training exists because many people have witnessed and are victims of this form of harassment in the workplace and greater action was needed to prevent or halt these behaviors. 60% of women experience unwanted sexual comments or conduct in the workplace.

Both men and women experience sexual harassment, however, a large number of individuals do not report to top management. 90% of employees who experience harassment never file a complaint.

Employers should make an ongoing commitment to create an environment that is safe and ensure all claims are taken seriously.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of sexual nature that is persistent or offensive and interferes with an employee's job performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Sexual harassment can be verbal as well, including remarks that are generalizing to women or men. It is often noted as a term meant for women, however, both men and women can be victims of sexual harassment. This applies to the harasser as well. Some examples can include ignoring ideas of the women in the workplace and only listening to men, unwanted/inappropriate touching, or crossing the line of professionalism by asking a coworker on a date when they are presenting uncomfortable body language or saying no. Cold body language towards an uncomfortable situation equates to a no as verbally stating it. Sexual harassment can be subtle or blatantly noticeable. Regardless, it should be reported and anyone that may have witnessed these interactions is also liable to report.

Procedures for Employers to Follow in the Workplace

The first thing an employer should do if an employee brings up a complaint is to take it seriously. An investigation should take place immediately and also remain on a need-to-know basis. The investigation can include interviews of both parties and the collection of relevant documents. If the complaint is determined to be a valid case, the employer should take proper disciplinary action to ensure the harassment does not continue. For outside help, the Office of Civil Rights (S/OCR) is the main contact point for questions or concerns about sexual harassment. Supervisors and other responsible department officials who observe or reasonably suspect incidents of possible sexual harassment must immediately report such incidents to S/OCR. The Office of Civil Rights will guide as needed on investigating and handling the potential harassment.

It’s important to note that supervisors and managers can be harassers as well. For those instances, an outside entity should investigate an impartial evaluation. Both managers and supervisors are subject to disciplinary action.

Each state has different requirements for the training. There are federal and state requirements. Sexual harassment is illegal as it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and it applies to employers with 15 employees or more. Employers are expected to follow both requirements. Take a look at the measures for your state or compare and contrast between other states:

Alabama - Not required, but encouraged

Alaska - Not required, but encouraged

Arizona - Not required, but encouraged

Arkansas - Not required, but encouraged

California - Required:

  • Employers with 5 or more employees must provide 2 hours of mandatory interactive training for supervisors

  • 1 hour of mandatory training for employees within 6 months of attaining a position in the company

  • Training must repeat every 2 years

Colorado - Not required, but state encourages to take sexual harassment prevention measures

Connecticut - Required:

  • 2 hours of training to all employees including supervisory employees by October 1st and within 6 months of attaining a position in the company

  • Training must address state and federal laws

Delaware - Required:

  • Employers with 50 or more employees must provide training for all employees and supervisors

  • Excludes applicants and independent contractor

  • New employees must complete the training within the first year of hire

  • Existing employees must complete training by January 1st

District of Columbia - Not required, but encouragedFloridaRequired:

  • All supervisors must receive training on affirmative action, equal opportunity, and sexual harassment

Georgia - Not required, but encouraged

Hawaii - Not required, but state encourages to take sexual harassment prevention measures

Idaho - Not required, but encouraged

Illinois - Required:

  • All employers are to provide training each year

  • Owners of restaurants and bars are required to provide industry-specific training in both English and Spanish.

Indiana - Not required, but encouraged

Iowa - The directors of each department within a state agency and their employees must attend affirmative action, cultural diversity, and sexual harassment prevention training

Kansas - Not required, but encouraged

Kentucky - Not required, but encouraged

Louisiana - Not required, but encouraged

Maine --Required:

  • All employers with 15 or more employees must provide training within a year of employment, including managers and supervisors

Maryland - Not required, but state encourages to take sexual harassment prevention measures

Massachusetts - Not required, but state encourages to provide sexual harassment training within one year of employment.

Michigan - The Department of Civil Rights is required to provide education and training programs to all employers, labor organizations, and employment agencies to help them understand the requirements.

Minnesota - Not required, but encouraged

Mississippi - Not required, but encouraged

Missouri - Not required, but encouraged

Montana - Not required, but encouraged

Nebraska - Not required, but encouraged

Nevada - Required:

  • Employees must take a certified sexual harassment class within six months of their appointments and must take a certified refresher course every two years after they take the first one.

New Hampshire - Not required, but encouraged

New Jersey - Required:

  • Employees must take a certified sexual harassment class within six months of their appointments and must take a certified refresher course every two years after they take the first one.

New Mexico - Required: Primary and secondary education providers and centers are required to train all school personnel at least once a year.

New York - Required:

  • Employers with more than 15 employees must provide training for employees, interns, supervisors, and managers.

  • New employees who work more than 80 hours per year must provide training within 90 days of the hiring date.

North Carolina - Required to create an unlawful workplace harassment plan, which includes implementation of harassment training and other employee education programs.

North Dakota - Not required, but encouraged

Ohio - Not required, but state encourages to take sexual harassment prevention measures.

Oklahoma - All state employees who investigate discrimination complaints should receive equal employment opportunity, discrimination, and burdens of proof training.

Oregon - Not required, but encouraged

Pennsylvania Required:

  • Sexual harassment prevention training must be provided

Rhode Island - Not required, but encouraged to conduct education and training programs for employees, supervisors, and managers within a year of employment or position.

South Carolina - Not required, but encouraged

South Dakota - Not required, but encouraged

Tennessee - Required:

  • State Department Personnel must assist each department with planning and delivering sexual harassment prevention training to all public employees.

Texas - Required:

  • Training must be provided within 30 days of employment and must be repeated every 2 years.

Utah - Required:

  • Training must be provided within 90 days of employment and must be repeated every 3 years

Vermont - Not required, but encouraged to conduct sexual harassment training for employees, supervisors, and managers within a year of employment or position.

Virginia - Not required, but encouraged

Washington - Required:

  • Training is required for all employees.

West Virginia - Not required, but encouraged

Wisconsin - Not required, but encouraged

Wyoming - Not required, but encouraged

The best way to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace is for the top management to model respect and civility. The environment in an organization, along with company culture, is set from the top. It is basic human nature to adapt, repeat and observe the actions around us. Many people have experienced the notion of spending a lot of time with someone and soon after they start to mimic their behavior and repeat similar words the individual states. Our employees can be compared to sponges who observe and soak in the behaviors of others. Be sure to treat your employees with respect and kindness. Listen to your employees and make them feel heard. With these simple remedies, you will be on your way to a healthy and efficient environment.

For businesses with 5 or more employees, the sexual harassment requirement must be completed by January 2021 in California. We are a team of certified HR consultants ready to support your specialized compliance needs. We are the Human Resources management team that works. HR Lab Los Angeles develops content for startups, small & medium-sized businesses and offers subscription services, as well. Let us help you fulfill this requirement. Email us at or call us at (818) 213- 1476 for our Sexual Harassment Training packet for both supervisors and non-supervisors.

About HR Lab: Formed in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, HR Lab is here to make a difference. At HR Lab, we work to strengthen workforce quality by improving the HR system, ensuring its ongoing relevance, and preparing employers, workers, educators, and governments to use it effectively. Our vision is a labor market that relies on the relevance, quality, and value of workforce credentials for opportunities, growth, and development.

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Disclaimer: The information in these materials should not be considered legal, accounting, or investment advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, investment, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. It is provided for informational purposes only. If you require legal, accounting, or investment advice, or need other professional assistance, you should always consult your attorney, accountant, or other professional advisor to discuss your particular facts, circumstances, business, personal finance, and investment needs.


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