The Most Effective Ways to Facilitate Sexual Harassment Training To Your Employees
by George J. Ramos
Compliance Training Group knows that California employers with fifty or more employees are required to provide two hours of Sexual Harassment Awareness Training to all supervisors, every two years, per California Assembly Bill 1825.
But what are the best ways to facilitate this type of training? Do employers really comprehend the specific requirements in complying with Assembly Bill 1825? As an employer, is your anti-harassment training program up to date? Are you aware of the training laws set forth by the federal government? Did you know the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Supreme Court are holding employers accountable and making them pay for failing to properly train their workforce? If you answered "no" to any of these questions, keep reading.
So how does one effectively facilitate training and as an employer, what do you really need to know? First of all, your trainer must meet certain requirements in order to even be considered a "qualified presenter".
According to the regulations, trainers must possess one or more of the following qualifications
- An attorney with at least two years experience and whose practice includes employment law;
- A human resource professional or harassment prevention consultant with a minimum of two years practical experience designing harassment/discrimination prevention training, responding to harassment or discrimination complaints, conducting investigations of sexual harassment complaints, or advising employers on these issues; or
- Law school or college professors or instructors with twenty instruction hours or two or more years experience teaching employment law under FEHA and Title VII.
There are consequences for employers who choose not to comply with Assembly Bill 1825. For example, failure to train your supervisors automatically puts liability on the employer, opening the door to an unlimited amount of harassment law suits. It may be argued in court that failure to meet the minimum training requirements is deliberate and evidence of an employer’s disregard to take every step necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring in the workplace.
First, to ensure your anti-harassment training program is up to date, make sure you have a training policy! If you don’t have a policy, you need to establish one immediately. This task should be designated to your labor attorney or in-house counsel. The policy should state that the employer will not tolerate harassment based on disability, sex, race, religion, gender, age, national origin or genetic information. The policy should also state that the employer will not tolerate retaliation against anyone who participates in a sexual harassment investigation or who files a complaint of sexual harassment.
Secondly, all employees, not just supervisors and managers, must be trained on your policy, as well as acknowledge the policy with their dated signature; this ensures that the policy was communicated to all employees. Supervisors of employers with fifty or more employees must receive two hours of training on Sexual Harassment Awareness in the Workplace, every two years. This training must be conducted by a qualified presenter and every attendee must receive a certificate of completion for their personnel file.
Harassment in the workplace is also a violation federal law, when it is severe and pervasive. This does not mean that simple teasing and isolated incidents are a violation of federal law, but if the conduct becomes such that it creates a hostile work environment, is more serious and frequent in nature, then it can be established that the behavior does, in fact, violate federal law.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is out is currently taking all possible steps to ensure that all employees are treated with respect and are free from sexual harassment, retaliation, and discrimination in the workplace. Recently in the news, a car dealership in Las Vegas was forced to pay a whopping $110,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the EEOC. This announcement was made on January 6, 2010.
Don’t let your business become part of a sexual harassment lawsuit statistic. For more than a decade, the U.S. Supreme Court and the EEOC have strongly encouraged harassment-awareness training for all employees, punishing employers who fail to educate their employees. Remember, the year 2011 is a harassment awareness "re-train" year for most California employers. It is imperative you make providing this training part of your budget. Failing to forgo sexual harassment awareness training could cost your company in upwards of millions of dollars. Ask yourself this question, can you afford not to?