An area where some companies must provide training, for their benefit if nothing else, is harassment training. Harassment can take on several forms, including sexual, and against age, race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Providing specific training can help reduce claims throughout the organization, along with a strict disciplinary policy to help deter instances.
Harassment training (sexual harassment, hostile environment, ect.) should be conducted with every employee when they are hired and then again annually for all employees. While a company won’t be fined if they don’t provide this training, the costs can be outrageous in the long-run if this is not completed. If training is not conducted for employees the employer can be held liable if an employee is harassed and they have not used reasonable care to prevent the harassment by conducting the training. The litigation costs alone can be astronomical.
The company should have specific procedures in place if harassment occurs, including procedures for reporting and investigating. The training for employees should include, but is certainly not limited to:
- Definition of specific forms of harassment
- Overview of state and federal laws
- The company’s specific policy
- Examples of what harassment and is not
- Explanation of who can commit and who can experience
- The best prevention practices
- Explanation of when the employer is liable for the harassment and the employee’s responsibilities in preventing it
- Outline the specific procedures for reporting and investigation
- Explain the investigation process when a complaint has been filed
- The company’s policy on disciplinary action when harassment has occurred
As with any type of discrimination, retaliation training needs to also be conducted. Employees, especially supervisors, should fully understand what retaliation is and practices for it to not occur in the workplace.
The EEOC is very strict when it comes to harassment claims, including:
- They take a more aggressive approach to investigating and closing claims
- They require public press releases for all settlements (this can hurt your business!)
- They don’t allow early ‘no-fault’ settlements – meaning, they will complete the investigation and won’t allow a company to back out of a claim by giving a settlement where both parties are not found ‘at-fault’
- They require injunctive relief
- Their 5 year plan proposes a refocus of effort to combat workplace discrimination
All employers need to put forth good faith efforts to deter discrimination of all types and retaliation throughout the workplace. Every state has different requirements about when harassment training must be conducted.
CA – Companies with 50+ employees must provide a minimum of 2 hours of ‘interactive’ training for all supervisors with a re-training for all supervisors
ME – Companies with 15+ employees must provide training for all employees
CT – Companies with 50+ employees must provide 2 hours of training for all supervisors within six months of becoming a supervisor
However, I recommend that any company, no matter the size, implements this training. Not only does it help safe guard the company, but it’s just good practice.