Sexual Harassment Laws Apply to Small Businesses Too

Sexual Harassment Training

Sexual Harassment Training

The trend continues: more states now require large and small employers to train their employees to prevent workplace sexual harassment. 

What Laws Protect Employees From Sexual Harassment?

Examples of states that have updated their sexual harassment laws in recent years include:


As part of the Time’s Up Act, Connecticut employers with at least three employees need to provide sexual harassment training. This requirement includes training on the illegality of sexual harassment and resolutions available to victims. The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities’ two-hour training must be completed for all existing employees by October 1, 2020. All new employees hired on or after October 1, 2019, must receive this training within six months of their start day.

Employers with fewer than three employees are required to provide the training only to supervisory employees. At least every 10 years, employers need to provide supplemental training on updates to federal and state statutory provisions. Failure to provide the training will be considered a “discriminatory practice” and could result in a fine of up to $1,000.

Connecticut employers also have new notice requirements, including a mandatory sexual harassment policy email to new employees as well as a new compulsory poster about sexual harassment being illegal and options available to victims.


Under the Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act, employers who have at least 50 employees must have all employees, including full-time, part-time, seasonal, temporary employees, interns and apprentices, receive interactive training on sexual harassment. Independent contractors and job applicants need not be counted toward the numerosity requirement. The training must be completed within one year of hiring for new employees; all existing employees were to have been trained by January 1, 2020.

There are different training requirements for non-supervisory and supervisory employees. Non-supervisory employees must be trained on the following topics:

  • The illegality of sexual harassment
  • The definition of sexual harassment using examples
  • The legal remedies and complaint procedures available to employees
  • Contact information for the Delaware Department of Labor
  • The legal prohibition against retaliation

In addition to these topics, supervisory employees must also receive training on a supervisor”s specific responsibilities.


Illinois Workplace Transparency Act

The Illinois Workplace Transparency Act requires all Illinois public and private employers—of any size—to provide sexual harassment training. The minimum standards training must be provided by December 31, 2020, and each year thereafter. Restaurants and bars must provide supplemental sexual harassment training. The minimum training standards include information on the following:

  • An explanation of sexual harassment under the Illinois Human Rights Act
  • Examples of behaviors that fall under sexual harassment
  • Descriptions of state and federal statutory provisions related to sexual harassment and the avenues offered to victims
  • A summary of the employer’s responsibilities for prevention, investigation and corrective measures for sexual harassment

If an employer fails to provide this training, the employer will be notified and given a 30-day cure period. If it fails to comply within 30 days, it may be subject to civil penalties.

New York

In 2023, the Department of Labor in New York made changes to the state’s Sexual Harassment Model Policy. These guidelines provide a roadmap for employers when adhering to the state’s laws regarding workplace sexual harassment. The policy requires all employers to develop a model policy or execute sexual harassment prevention policies in writing to meet or exceed the standards outlined in the New York Labor Law.

Examples of modifications to the sexual harassment laws include:

  • Further clarification of harassing conduct: The conduct does not have to be sexual in nature to meet the definition of sexual harassment. It also encompasses harassment on the basis of gender, gender identity or expression and sexual orientation.
  • Harassment needn’t be severe or pervasive: Plaintiffs now only need to show that they were subjected to inferior terms and conditions and privileges of employment.
  • Addition of sexual stereotyping: Actions such as asking employees to perform traditionally gendered job functions or making comments regarding a worker’s gender expression are now considered sexual harassment. 


Texas is another state that has updated its sexual harassment laws in recent years. One new bill directly impacted small businesses by defining an employer as a person who employs one or more workers or acts directly in the interests of an employer relative to an employee. It also raises the standard for an employer’s response to known harassment by requiring them to act quickly and appropriately to correct the situation.

Another bill extends the statute of limitations for sexual harassment claims in Texas from 180 to 300 days. This change does not apply to other unlawful employment practices — employees still have only 180 days to file a claim in these situations.

What Should Employers Do

In each of these states, employers should review their existing policies and training materials to ensure compliance with the new requirements. Poster Compliance Center streamlines this process by helping you stay updated as labor laws and posting requirements change. Visit the One-Year Compliance Plan website for all mandatory state and federal poster requirements, which include free updates for 12 months from the date of your purchase. Stay up to date as laws change in these states and beyond.