Several high profile scandals brought sexual harassment in the workplace into the spotlight during 2017. It remains a serious issue throughout the United States, and several states require workplaces to put effective policies and training in place to address this problem.
Companies could face severe consequences if they do not comply with standards for sexual harassment training. If this training is not adequately offered, victims may feel embarrassed or afraid to report misconduct because they don’t know where to go, or they feel that their complaint will not be taken seriously by the organization. Employees may not be able to identify inappropriate behavior, which may lead to unintentional acts that make others feel uncomfortable.
But what exactly is seen as sexual harassment?
It is an unwelcome request for sexual favors, sexual advances, or other unwelcome conducts of a sexual nature that makes a person feel humiliated, intimidated, or offended. Some examples are unwelcome touching, suggestive jokes or comments, and staring or leering.
Why is sexual harassment training necessary for employees?
Here are five reasons why employees should receive sexual harassment training:
1. It encourages reporting
Training educates and encourages workers to report potential problems and incidents to management.
2. Increases awareness of acceptable and unacceptable behavior
Proper training removes the uncertainty of what is and isn’t appropriate behavior, thus providing employees with the ability to recognize all forms of misconduct.
3. Strengthens your workplace culture
A company encourages its staff to act ethically by communicating its values, policies, and goals through effective training, thereby strengthening its culture.
4. Sends a strong message from the top
By providing training regularly, businesses give their workers a strong message that a respectful workplace is a priority for them.
5. Empowers bystanders
Even though employees may not be victims, they may assist their co-workers by reporting misconduct if they experience it. Bystander intervention is highly constructive and can stop harassing behavior while providing support for a coworker.
Now that we understand why training for sexual harassment is essential for employees, let’s look at why it is important for managers and the company.
What are some of the reasons an organization should have harassment prevention training?
Managers are in a position of influence, meaning they need to be even more aware of the different types of sexual harassment and how their own actions may be perceived. The manager’s responsibility is to ensure that every employee is educated correctly to prevent any possible misunderstandings regarding appropriate and inappropriate behavior. They are often the first to know when misconduct occurs, and they must know how to deal with the problem correctly and effectively. Training provides managers with a norm they can refer to when a sexual harassment complaint is made, making them confident that they are handling it correctly.
Receiving the correct training protects businesses from state penalties by ensuring that they are compliant and that all New York State standards are met. More importantly, companies are protected from becoming subject to lawsuits. New York State regulations require that each employer establishes a policy, provides training on the contents, and hands each employee a copy of the policy.
When hiring an employee, it is the company’s responsibility to make sure that he/she receives the sexual harassment training as soon as possible, and this should be repeated at least once per year. The state does not require a minimum number of training hours, as long as it complies with the New York State guidelines.
If the proper training is not provided, the company may be held liable if misconduct occurs. If employees fail to do the training despite numerous requests, the company can still face liability. The State of New York allows companies to impose administrative actions on getting employees to comply with the training.
Smart employers realize that adequate training regarding sexual harassment will make their employees feel safe in the workplace. They demonstrate that they truly care about the effective prevention of the problem and, in the process, also receive legal protection.
Coggno has a wide range of sexual harassment online training courses.