Sexual harassment training is no longer an option for many organizations. In fact, at this time, five states out of fifty have signed into law mandates requiring sexual harassment training for businesses.
Last August, Delaware Governor, John Carney, signed into law a bill (SB 360) that would require employers with four or more employees to issue an information sheet on sexual harassment. The bill also requires larger employers with 50 or more on staff to provide sexual harassment training for all employees and supervisors under their roof. As of January 1st, 2019, the law is effective.
Other states such as California, Connecticut and Maine also have sexual harassment mandates in practice at this time. However, growth of mandates such as these is on the horizon, especially in light of new movements around the globe.
Why Are These Mandates Being Created?
Harassment in the workplace is nothing new. In fact, most harassment has been hidden from view. However, recent movements such as #MeToo have only brought more light to sexual harassment in the workforce, hoping to change the way businesses and other entities react.
Sexual harassment exists in the workplace and there are statistics to prove it. For example, 45 percent of the EEOC’s harassment claims are sex-based including harassment, gender identity and sexual orientation claims. At least 25 percent of women experience some form of sexual harassment in the workplace and according to the EEOC, some reports find the number as high as 85 percent.
Beyond the percentage of reported cases, 75 percent of harassment victims experience retaliation when the harassment is reported. Due to this retaliation and other negative factors, between 87 percent and 94 percent of employees that experience harassment don’t file a formal complaint.
Businesses who have experienced complaints due to sexual harassment are often greatly affected. For example, Fox News paid $13 million to five women who appeared on the Bill O’Reilly show. Another woman in California was awarded $168 million in a court case for damages, lost wages, and mental anguish after experiencing unwanted advances and inappropriate comments from fellow employees.
Sexual Harassment Training Requirements
For states that require mandated sexual harassment training, there are specific requirements. However, most states currently only recommend the training and do not require it. You can find the current training requirements in your state by visiting this website.
While most states only recommend training, some states outline specific requirements. Some of these requirements include:
- California: Employers with fifty or more employees must provide two hours of mandatory sexual harassment training to supervisors within 6 months of becoming a supervisor and at least every two years. Training is also required by all public employees regardless of the number of employees.
- Connecticut: All employers with fifty or more employees must provide two hours of training for supervisors within six months of the start of employment. E-learning is an option if possible.
- Maine: All employers with fifteen or more employees located in or doing business in the state must train all employees about sexual harassment within a year of their employment. Supervisors must receive additional training within one year.
Are these requirements enough? Is there more to come in the future? We believe so. It’s important to prepare your workforce for what seems to be a growing trend in state legislation.
How to Prepare Your Workforce for Possible Sexual Harassment Legislation
To help prepare your workforce for possible legislation in your state, now is the time to prepare by taking the recommendations seriously. You should place emphasis on the best practices for workplace harassment prevention, regardless of the size of your business. What are some of these best practices?
Develop a workplace harassment policy that complies with U.S. federal law and the laws of any state in which you do business.
- Post your harassment policy publicly to ensure the complaint process is easily visible.
- Ensure all current employees, supervisors and new hires receive a copy of your policy, understand the process and are trained on your policies and the law.
- Ensure your complaint process gives your employee permission to bypass the current supervisor.
- Reward employees whose actions prevent or correct harassment.
- Respond to complaints immediately and always thoroughly investigate all complaints.
- Update your policy at least once a year to ensure it complies with the growing legal environment.
- Retrain supervisors and all employees periodically.
As a business within the United States, it’s better to be prepared for harassment, regardless of current requirements. As the legal environment shifts, your state could be next. To learn more about sexual harassment in the workplace or for assistance with your training program, reach out to Inspired eLearning today.
The original version of this article was first published on Inspired eLearning.