As an employer, sexual harassment training needs to be a priority for your business in order to create a healthy and safe workplace for all of your employees. According to a study done by a Los Angeles law firm, 25 percent of women experience sexual harassment in the workplace. Many companies are facing a rise in workplace harassment, proving how important effective sexual harassment training is.
Implementing a Sexual Harassment Training Program
Under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) in California, companies with five or more employees are required to provide sexual harassment training to all employees. An employer is legally responsible for the actions of its employees, making it important to implement an effective sexual harassment training program. Although this seems simple, many companies fail to train their employees correctly, resulting in expensive and time-consuming lawsuits.
If employees are educated on the professional standards required during work, it is less likely harassment will occur. In order for a program to be effective, the policies should be communicated to employees on multiple occasions. This can be done through company-wide meetings involving open communication with positive reinforcement to employees who participate. These meetings should be done regularly to remind employees about the program and to strengthen their knowledge on appropriate behavior in the workplace.
Make sure all employees know the process of making a complaint, and encourage them to report all incidents, even if it didn’t happen directly to them. Employees must be active bystanders. Although many may be uncomfortable with stepping in during a situation, they can be trained to take other steps of action including reporting the incident interrupting, or distracting the harasser in person.
Implementing a sexual harassment training program and regularly reviewing policies will help define acceptable behaviors and behaviors that violate company policy.
Responding to Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
When a sexual harassment training program is implemented, it is critical for supervisors and managers to be proactive and recognize and respond to sexual harassment claims seriously. Managers and supervisors must know how to respond to each claim in an appropriate way, regardless if the claim is suspected to be untrue.
Meet with the Survivor
The manager should meet with the survivor as soon as the complaint is received, so the survivor does not believe they are being neglected in any way. Reporting a sexual harassment claim is very difficult and can be triggering to those who make claims. The manager should ask questions, take notes, and understand the situation fully while making the survivor feel comfortable and guarantee their safety at all times.
Enforce a Proper Investigation
Report all claims of sexual harassment to human resources immediately so that a proper investigation make take place. Reporting to human resources is important, as they are trained to be neutral and impartial and the survivor will understand their report is being taken seriously. Failure to report a complaint could make the situation worse and could trigger a lawsuit, and affect the company indefinitely.
Take Appropriate Action
As a manager, reassure the survivor that their complaint is being taken seriously and a proper investigation is being enforced. Inform the survivor that no acts of retaliation or unethical actions will happen. If employees feel as though actions are not being enforced by management, issues will continue to emerge and incidents will stop being reported. Therefore, the employees who are committed to sexual harassment will continue to.
It is critical for employers to respond quickly and take the appropriate steps and conduct a full investigation to hold individuals accountable for sexual harassment incidents.
If you have been sexually harassed in a California workplace, and your employer has failed to take your claim seriously, you may need legal advice from a sexual harassment attorney. Employers must take all sexual harassment claims seriously and respond efficiently.
Importance of Sexual Harassment Training
Creating an environment where employees feel comfortable reporting and filing complaints about sexual harassment is essential to keeping a safe workplace. Implementing preventative strategies in your workplace can help prevent sexual harassment in the future and create a respectful work culture.