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Scopelitis L & E News: Sexual Harassment Prevention Training is Invaluable and a Must in California

by A. Jack Finklea, James H. Hanson, Christopher C. McNatt, Sara L. Pettinger, David D. Robinson, Donald J. Vogel

May 13, 2019

Harassment Prevention Training is Invaluable . . . And a Must in California

Recently released data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reveals a 13% spike in harassment charges over the past year. Additionally, the EEOC reports that it obtained over $56 million in monetary benefits for sexual harassment victims over the same period. A comprehensive harassment avoidance policy, often contained in employee handbooks, provides an important yet incomplete tool for avoiding these issues. Harassment avoidance training helps ingrain those policy standards into the work environment and lessen employer risks. In fact, new California training requirements call for all employees to be trained, not just managers.

Employers Should Train Employees

A good training program focuses on defining acceptable and unacceptable conduct in the workplace. Inappropriate conduct not only includes face-to-face interactions, but also electronic communications and even passive displays such as calendars, posters, and other information on a wall or in a cab. Importantly, front line employees need to understand how to identify and avoid inappropriate behavior, and those who wish to report potential harassment must understand how to report incidents. Finally, managers should be trained in maintaining a respectful environment, spotting potential problems, treating issues with discretion, assisting in investigations, and, among other things, preventing retaliation.

Comprehensive training can carry multiple benefits, including a demonstration to employees and agencies that the company takes harassment avoidance seriously. What is more, comprehensive training helps prevent harassment from occurring in the first place, not just limiting liability when a harassment allegation is made.

California’s Expanded Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

Consistent with the #MeToo movement, California has recently expanded the sexual harassment prevention training requirements for California employers.  Previously, only employers with 50 or more employees were required to provide sexual harassment prevention training.  Under the new law, employers with 5 or more employees in the State of California must provide 1 hour of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to non-manager employees and 2 hours of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to managers.  Employers must provide the 2-hour manager training to employees within six months of their promotion to management positions.  All employees must be trained every two years.  The training must cover the prevention of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. 

Scopelitis has developed a training program for employees as well as managers. The training is interactive, and is designed to prevent instances of inappropriate behavior as well as assist in compliance with training requirements.

If you have any questions, please contact Jack Finklea, Jim Hanson, Sara Pettinger, David Robinson, Don Vogel, or Chris McNatt.

 

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News from Scopelitis is intended as a report to our clients and friends on developments affecting the transportation industry. The published material does not constitute an exhaustive legal study and should not be regarded or relied upon as individual legal advice or opinion.

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