Sexual harassment in the workplace can take many forms. It can involve requesting explicit sexual favors or creating an overall hostile work environment due to unwelcome advances. Regardless of the exact situation, it is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Employers should do everything within their power to prevent this problem from occurring in their places of work.
It may be impossible to prevent sexual harassment entirely, but employers can significantly reduce their liability by regularly hosting sexual harassment training seminars. The problem is most employers view these seminars are reactive instead of preventive. For business owners who have never dealt with an employee behaving improperly, they may assume they do not need to spend the money on such classes. However, it is good to host them regularly. In some states, they are even required by law.
1. It Helps With Your Defense If an Employee Does Harass Others
If an employee experiences sexual harassment at the workplace, then he or she may file a lawsuit against the exact perpetrator and the business itself for being liable. In the event the company never had harassment seminars, then the court may view the organization as being more liable. However, when an employer can definitively prove he or she held these classes and that everyone was in attendance, a much better defense is built.
This is referred to as the Faragher-Ellerth affirmative defense. This defense is based off two Supreme Court cases. It is useful for showing the employer demonstrated reasonable care to circumvent workplace harassment and that the alleged harasser failed to utilize these courses to prevent harm. Without such a defense, an employer may need to pay millions of dollars in damages.
2. Employees Can Forget Key Points
It is not enough for an organization to engage with workplace compliance training once and then never bring it up again. Employees may forget what constitutes harassment, and if your last seminar was years ago, then the Faragher-Ellerth defense may not work. It is recommended for businesses with more than 50 employees to have sexual harassment courses at least once every six months.
This frequency is also beneficial because it will make sure new hires receive training within a timely manner of being brought onboard. In some states, such as California, sexual harassment training once every six months is required by law, so business owners definitely need to abide by it.
3. The Law Constantly Changes
The type of sexual harassment training companies received a decade ago is vastly different than what businesses receive now. Decades ago, these seminars primarily focused on heterosexual relations. Now there is a greater emphasis that harassment can occur between any two individuals regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
There is also a greater emphasis on how bullying impacts others. One mean joke or a certain gesture can be enough for employees to not feel safe in the building. The working environment has changed greatly over the years, and bosses need to stay abreast of what is being taught.
4. It Improves Morale in the Office
Employees want to feel safe in their places of work. When you offer sexual harassment training, it shows employees that you are there in case anything does happen. An unfortunate reality is that many people do not come forward even when they experience harassment. They worry about retaliation. They fear losing their jobs for rocking the boat. When you show you are proactive about preventing harassment, people will be more willing to come forward to you if something occurs. You may be able to remedy the situation in-house without anyone having to resort to filing lawsuits.
Numerous people experience sexual harassment every year. It is a reality employers can no longer deny, so they need to take preventive actions to curtail any incidents. It is in the best interest of everyone at an organization to receive training. It is a precautionary investment that will certainly pay for itself in case an incident ever does occur. While every employer hopes nothing like this will ever happen at their workplace, it is important to remain practical. One workshop every six months will not interrupt your business operations in the slightest, and it will hopefully make your workers kinder.