Washington State Requires Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training for Industry-Specific Employers

April 16, 2020


Washington State is among several of the progressive states in country that have implemented a sexual harassment training requirement for specific employers. On January 1, 2020, newly enacted legislation mandating sexual harassment training in certain industries took effect. The types of industries covered under this new law include hotels, motels, retail corporations, security guard entities and property services contractor industries that employ at least one person. Hotels and motels that have 60 or more rooms at their establishments were required to comply with this law no later than January 1, 2020. The remainder of covered employers must meet these legal requirements by January 1, 2021. See Chapter 49.60 of the Revised Code of Washington.

The new legal requirements for covered employers related to policy and training are twofold: 1) to create and implement a sexual harassment policy in the workplace; and 2) to deliver mandatory sexual harassment training to their managers, supervisors and employees. Employers are also required to provide employees with a list of resources regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault, including contact information for the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Washington State Human Rights Commission. Covered employers are also required to must also give each covered employee an emergency contact device, or “panic button,” which can summon assistance from another co-worker or employer representative.

These new measures are meant to prevent sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual discrimination in the covered industries. The new legal requirements are also aimed at educating the workforce within the covered industries about protections for employees that report violations of a state or federal law related to sexual harassment and discrimination.

Action Items for Covered Employers in 2020

First, covered employers should train their human resources department and supervisory staff on the law’s requirements.

Second, covered employers must implement and/or update its policy and procedures on sexual harassment in the workplace by either January 1, 2020, or January 1, 2021, depending on your type of business.

Third, covered employers must provide mandatory sexual harassment training for managers, supervisors and employees alike by either January 1, 2020, or January 1, 2021, depending on your type of business.

Finally, covered employers must disseminate the required list of resources, agencies and organizations to their employees.

If you need assistance with the required sexual harassment prevention training, or you need help creating or updating your sexual harassment prevention policy to be legally compliant, please contact us. Our firm offers a wide range of services that will help you meet and exceed your legal obligations under this new law, as well as others that may impact your organization.