Workplace harassment is an unfortunate side effect of bringing a diverse group of people together into an organization and anticipating that every day everyone will merely get along.
It doesn’t matter where you are in the country, whether it’s California or on the other side of the United States, there will be discrimination, mistreatments, and incidents of being bullied by colleagues, even those in higher positions.
These offensive behaviors, often followed by serious actions, produce a “hostile work environment.” This workplace harassment can relate to gender, race, religion, disabilities, either mental or physical, nationality, or sex.
The employer bears the burden of providing employees with a pleasant and cohesive employment environment where everyone who works there can feel respected and safe.
California has taken the reins on this by developing the California sexual harassment law and instituting workplace training using strategies and progressive policies to educate and inform employees.
The United States has no federal laws that mandate sexual harassment training among companies. But states like California do.
California Sexual Harassment Training
With the “#Metoo movement,” many laws were enacted mandating “sexual harassment prevention.” Laws that were in place were amended to expand on current programs.
California is a state that mandated anti-sexual harassment education programs be brought into companies that have five or more employees. The guidelines for these trainings require that:
- Anyone newly hired or promoted to a leadership position receives appropriate training no later than six months upon accepting their role.
- Employees are to receive an hour of sexual harrassment training every two years, while those in a leadership position will undergo two hours of training.
- If a staffing agency places an employee, that agency is responsible for adequate training. Employees hired on less than a six-month basis must receive their training no later than 30 days from hire or within “100 hours of worked time.”
“FEHA” or the “Fair Employment and Housing Act” in the state of California have deemed it illegal for any person to harass a colleague based on race, age, sexual orientation, gender, disabilities, religion, ancestry, or nationality.
With this Act, business leaders become liable if harassment is a known occurrence, with no action being taken to protect those involved. The person responsible for the harassment is held to the same liability under the Act and will not be considered exempt from punishment. Find details on California law requirements at https://themodemag.com/sexual-harassment-law-requirement-california/.
Employers are encouraged to talk to their teams about harassment in the workplace, define it and describe the varied ways you can work together in an effort to eliminate it. Even though the training sessions are only warranted every two years, that doesn’t mean the discussions need to go silent until that time.
Keep the dialog open regularly, hang posters to keep the law fresh in their minds, have refresher sessions, and make it part of the culture. Let’s look at a few tips to abide by the same standards California holds its business leaders to.
Hold training regularly
The California training requirements indicate the sessions for the employees need to be held every two years for one-hour sessions. This guideline was established with the forethought that this level of regularity would be sufficient in keeping staff aware and current with any updates in regulations or policies and procedures.
Further, the suggestion warrants the staff’s involvement in an “interactive” setting. Group involvement effectively ensures memory retention. It also encourages more people to speak so issues can be addressed with a greater likelihood for preventative measures to be suggested and implemented. Go here for guidance on prevention in the workplace.
Mandate all employee participation
While the laws passed in the state of California make the training requirement immensely clear, it is still the burden of the business leaders to ensure that all employees participate actively in the training sessions in the time frames indicated by the provisions.
The businesses need to establish company-wide guidelines to ensure no one, including seasonal, temporary, and staffing hires, is excluded.
The content should be relevant and explicit
Content presented for training should define terminologies specific to the subject. There should be images and examples that go with these scenarios, and the overall session should be relevant to the particular industry you’re involved with so the employees can relate their situation to the topic.
When presenting to team members, the priority is to veer away from the legal tones of the subject, instead, focusing on establishing a workplace where everyone can feel respected and safe to come in each day.
As a matter of impact, when holding a training session within your organization, employees will be influenced most prominently by their business leaders. That can be perhaps a superintendent or a vice president, whomever the team sees as the highest-ranking leader in the organization.
Sexual harassment, all harassment, needs the kind of tone CEOs or California can bring to it, so people start recognizing the behavior is unacceptable. We need to treat each other with kindness and respect. If you don’t want to do that, then face these repercussions. And drop the mic on that.