The “#MeToo” movement has created a heightened awareness of sexual harassment issues. However, the reports concerning allegations of “inappropriate conduct” have tended to blur the distinction between conduct that constitutes actionable sexual harassment and discrimination in employment and conduct that does not. Also, missing from the discussion is practical information on what employers should and must do to confront harassment and discrimination before and after complaints occur. As a result, many employers are finding themselves unprepared.
We regularly provide training to our clients not only on sexual harassment and discrimination issues, but on the various other forms of employment discrimination based on an employee’s protected status, e.g. race, color, disability, age, etc. Although the basic framework for training is the same for any business, the training we conduct is specific to your business and needs. We do this by working with your human resources and management staff to incorporate the company’s policies and reporting options into the training. In this way, the training serves, not only to educate persons on practical aspects of harassment and discrimination, but as an important tool for updating existing policies and educating employees on your internal processes and expectations.
The training we provide is not just for human resource professionals. Most complaints involve supervisor conduct or conduct reported to a supervisor that isn’t acted upon. For that reason, it is important that supervisors receive training. The format we like to use is to conduct supervisor training separately from non-supervisors and allow for questions directly from them. We want to have supervisors as a separate audience because the company’s liability often is directly related to what supervisors do and how they respond. Supervisors and management also have documentation and investigation obligations that do not apply to non-management employees. Lastly, having supervisors grouped with non-supervisors could deter open discussion of issues. Accordingly, we find it much more productive to train supervisors separately from non-supervisors.
Being prepared is not only common sense, it is necessary in many situations to avoid liability if something does occur. If this is something we can assist you with, please feel free to contact me or Sandra White directly to discuss.