Sexual Harassment Training: What Employers Need to Know

by on October 28, 2014

posted in Employment Law,

Most employers understand the importance and need to provide training for employees that discusses prevention and correction of sexual harassment in the workplace.  All employees must be provided with information from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing about sexual harassment; and, since 2006, some employers have been required to provide training to supervisors by a trainer with knowledge and expertise in the prevention of harassment, discrimination and retaliation. As well, most employers know they have an obligation to maintain policies designed to prevent sexual harassment.

In addition to training about sexual harassment, employers are soon to be required to include prevention of broader “abusive conduct” as part of their sexual harassment training programs.

Which Employers Need to Provide Training?

Naturally, all employers would be very wise to provide some level of training on how to prevent and correct sexual harassment; but, employers that have fifty (50) or more employees must provide this training.  This includes employers that may not have fifty employees of their own but regularly have a combination of employees, independent contractors, ”temps,” and other agents acting on behalf of the employer – whether directly employed, or employed through another such as a staffing service.  As well, public employers are expressly included in the definition of “employer.”  Some employers that previously may not have been required to provide this training, will find it mandatory now that temporary workers and independent contractors count toward the fifty (50) employees requirement.

What Training Is Required, and When?

Every employer must provide a minimum of two (2) hours of classroom and/or interactive training to all supervisory employees within six (6) months of their start date in a supervisory position.  Every supervisory employee must receive the training again at least every two (2) years.  The training must include information and practical guidance about Federal and State Laws that prohibit sexual harassment, about how to prevent and correct sexual harassment, and also about what victims could obtain as remedies from the employer and others if they are sexually harassed.  The training must be delivered through both information and the use of practical examples.  Beginning in January of 2015, the training must also include preventing “abusive conduct,” defined by law as “conduct by an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive and unrelated to the employer’s legitimate business interests….”

Employer Next Steps …

If you are an employer with 50 or more employees and haven’t conducted training for your supervisory staff, you should seek and schedule training without delay.  Even if you’ve already provided training, the suggested two-hours and two-year regular schedule for this training is a minimum amount.  Nothing should discourage you from providing additional training about sexual harassment and abusive conduct, as well as other forms of discrimination and retaliation, to both supervisory employees and other employees.  Employers should keep in mind that providing the training above does not mean that they can ignore an incident of sexual harassment of an employee or applicant.  All employers, whether or not they have met their training obligations, must take all reasonable steps to prevent and correct an instance of sexual harassment.

tags: Sexual Harassment Training,

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