Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training: What You Need to Know

Mandatory sexual harassment training is required by law depending on the state, but the most important goal is to create a safe and harassment-free environment for all employees. These training sessions will review what constitutes sexual harassment and abusive behavior in the workplace to develop the skills necessary to create a positive and safe work environment. 

Moreover, special provision is essential in the case of a new supervisor from another country with a different cultural background and language and who needs training in their preferred language.

Employers who do not comply with the law within predetermined deadlines vary from state to state and pay hefty fines. For example, the new Illinois law imposes a penalty of $500 for the first time and $3,000 for the third time only for companies with fewer than four employees. For employers with more than four employees, the fine rises from $1,000 to $5,000, respectively.

Under Local Law 96 of 2018, one in five workers living in the USA must get mandatory corporate sexual harassment training. Following this law, by 2020, 10 of the 50 states in the United States imposed similar laws hoping that this type of training will substantially reduce the complaints of sexual harassment at work.

Difference Between the Term Harassment and Sexual harassment

Harassment is an unwelcome activity that is done on the basis of religion, sex, nationality, color, race, or age. Harassment is considered unlawful when an individual experiences continuous offensive misconduct in any firm/company by an employer or employee.

The behavior is severe or pervasive enough to create a work atmosphere that would be intimidating, hostile, or abusive to a reasonable person. It includes offensive conduct that is not limited to offensive jokes, slurs, epithets, name-calling, physical attacks or threats, intimidation, ridicule, mockery, offensive objects or photos, and interference with work performance. Therefore, it affects the work and mental state of an individual too.

Sexual harassment, on the other hand, is defined as unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or any other sort of sexual harassment that creates an uncomfortable environment for an individual.

When sexual harassment is so pervasive or severe that it produces a hostile or offensive work environment, it becomes illegal. The EEOC and civil courts have determined that the “harasser” can be the victim of an employer, employee, or any other person at work. However, they may be subjected to strict punishments.

States Where Sexual Harassment Training is Made Mandatory

In addition to Illinois and California, training is already mandatory in New York (state and city), Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Washington. These states are known as blue states — or traditionally liberal-democratic states, as opposed to red states, which are conservative-republican states. The other state is North Carolina, one of the states known as purple states because they elect both Democrats and Republicans from one election to the next.

The District of Columbia (the US Federal District) has a unique new law: it requires employers who have employees who earn tips to train all their staff on dealing with sexual harassment. 

All about Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal government organization that enforces laws against discrimination done on job applicants and employees based on race, color, religion, sex, originality, or disability.

They also enforce rules that make it illegal to discriminate against someone who has complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or is engaged in an inquiry or lawsuit related to employment discrimination. In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigates charges of retaliation for reporting, participating, or opposing a discriminatory practice.

  • What are the training Methods?
  1. Conferences- Sexual harassment training can be conducted between the employers through conferencing. A person/ trainer is there who will enact and list out points related to the training. It is done online where all the people gather together in a room or conference hall.
  1. Live Training- An employer can hire a trainer who will train all the employees related to sexual harassment. A trainer is there who will provide even the slightest details to everyone present in the training session.
  1. Video- Training can also be given by video medium. The trainer can provide a video to each employee that will tell you everything about sexual harassment training. This video will contain some methods of self-defense that employees can use during the time of distress.
  1. Analysis of real situations- Under this activity, some real-life examples are given to the employees. This aims to motivate employees more towards raising voices against any kind of sexual harassment at the workplace. This indeed encourages one to take some strict actions against any kind of discrimination.

These laws also create more work for lawyers who specialize in handling cases of sexual harassment. Their part is to explain to employers and employees about the following-

  1. What constitutes sexual harassment at work and associated behaviors.
  2. The federal and state laws governing the matter.
  3. Department of Labor guidelines
  4. The criminal and civil proceedings that may result from such harassment.
  5. Misbehavior and the forums to file a complaint. 
  • Case Study

In California, the state already had a sexual harassment prevention law, which was made for the supervisors. By amendment in that existing law, the new law includes all employees of organizations. Also, the state has increased the time for a victim of sexual harassment to file a complaint from 1-3 years. The law confirms that people only file complaints after they are fired or leave work. Therefore, it was necessary to extend the deadline.

A study confirmed that women are the main victims of sexual harassment, although men are the sufferers. According to a report, nearly 81% of females have experienced sexual harassment by fellow workers at the office or workplace.

In the case of the New Illinois law, the Department of Labor will investigate whether the company has complied with the law to provide the sexual harassment training or not. But, more likely, there is a report of sexual harassment when the company is seeking any government contract or when an employee complains that the company has not yet provided the training. 

In general, the management must keep records of every training held in the company. The report must include the names of participants, date of training, a signature sheet of attendees, copies of course completion certificates, type of training, and recording used in training, along with the names and qualifications of the professionals who organized the training session.

In the case of Delaware, all the newly hired employees must undergo this training within a time of 90 days from joining the company, unless they have taken part in the training in another organization within the past two years.

Through this article, we can see that there is a strong necessity of organizing sexual harassment training in every firm or company. This type of training helps the employee who undergoes this type of harassment and helps them build up some confidence and live a life free of mental pressure.

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