Bet that got your attention!
One of the bosses received an email, stating in part:
“Majority of our clients in New York still have not completed the requirements for the new Sexual Harassment Law Change that went into effect in October of 2018. You need to put a policy in your handbook that your employees sign off on as well as hold annual interactive sexual harassment training’s.”
Without commenting on the obvious grammatical errors, nor on the fact that we don’t even have a “handbook,” one of my bosses asked me to find out if small employers are exempt from the new law.
Our firm consists of four people: two attorneys, two secretaries (of the four, one is male and three are female). Surely, we wouldn’t be expected to institute formal sexual harassment prevention training? After all, if any one of the four of us had a problem, it would be addressed and quickly resolved. We’re like family.
The male in our office responded, “Well, if you would all just stop picking on me …“
It’s so nice to finally work where people have a sense of humor.
Back in the day (in my case, early 1970’s), women (and men) knew how to handle unwanted comments and attention. I can recall, at the age of 19, being chased through an office building by an older man on the day he retired, because he “wanted a kiss” before he left. I simply ran into my own department (the steno pool), where my supervisor demanded to know just what was going on. The supervisor was a tough old broad who didn’t appreciate “her” staff being harassed, and she sent the guy packing. Up until then, I always thought she was a bitch on wheels, but after that I came to respect her take-no-prisoners attitude.
As a young woman, I learned how to get ahead in the workplace without succumbing to unwanted advances, but also without alienating those higher up the food chain. I learned to deal with petty jealousies and backstabbing from those on the same chain link as I was. It was a skill every one of us learned. Such harassment was part of ordinary working life, and usually wasn’t all that serious. All men were assholes, and all women were bitches. We dealt with it, we moved on, and we advanced in our careers.
It so happens that this recently enacted law applies to all New York State employers, regardless of size. Our little firm is obligated to have a written policy in place and to institute annual, interactive training.
Fortunately, the great State of New York provides a model policy and a model complaint form. All that is required is to insert the employer’s name and the name/contact information for the person who is responsible for receiving and resolving complaints.
That part was easy. But what about the interactive training? A quick internet search showed training videos running into hundreds of dollars, some even over a thousand dollars! Again, we only have four people!
Also fortunately, the great State of New York provides sexual harassment prevention training videos for just this purpose – and they’re free! Unfortunately, those videos are basically just power-point presentations of the written material on their website. The “case studies” video is interesting and informative – but really, couldn’t New York afford some actors, instead of simply voiceover reading the slide in question? New York taxes are among the highest in the country – can’t we get some entertainment for our money?
Regardless, the videos are now part of our firm’s training program (hey – free! and, mercifully short).
I guess I’m now the office training coordinator. Yay me. I can hardly wait to see which of the four people will be first in with a juicy complaint. For all the extra work, I think I should at least get a special hat.
Happy Friday, folks. May your day be stress-free.
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Images by Cordelia’s Mom/TeddyRosalie Studio