Employment Law Report

The Importance of Regular Harassment Training in the Workplace

By Sharon Gold

The end of 2017 saw a barrage of sexual harassment allegations in the news and, subsequently, the termination of multiple high profile men in the entertainment and corporate industries.  TIME magazine named the “Silence Breakers” as its “Person of the Year” for exposing the harassment that pervades the entertainment industry.  Thousands of women and men came forward on social media with the #METOO campaign with their own stories of harassment in the workplace.  What can an employer do to end harassment in the workplace?

Long before the recent wave of allegations, the EEOC created a Task Force and issued a report of recommendations to decrease sexual harassment in the workplace.  The primary findings were:

  • Workplace harassment remains a persistent problem
  • Workplace harassment often goes unreported
  • There are compelling business reasons for stopping and preventing harassment
  • Leadership and accountability are critical to preventing and stopping harassment
  • Training strategies need to change to be effective

Specifically with regard to improving training methods, the Task Force concluded that regular harassment training should be provided to all employees, not just supervisors and managers.  However, supervisors and managers should be trained on how to respond to complaints when they receive them.  Harassment training should describe harassment, educate employees about their rights and responsibilities, and discuss in detail the process for reporting in accordance with the Company’s policy.  Senior leaders of the organization should open the training sessions and reinforce the idea that preventing harassment is supported at the highest level of the organization.

Training should include workplace civility training and a discussion of the importance of respect in the workplace.  The Task Force recommends that harassment training include bystander intervention training as well. 

In order to be effective, training should include specific examples that are modified to fit the specific workplace.  Finally, the EEOC suggests that employers offer live training conducted by qualified and interactive trainers, rather than pre-recorded sessions. 

Our team is happy to assist you in conducting harassment training and/or reviewing your company’s harassment policy.  I can be reached at sgold@wyattfirm.com.

Sharon L. Gold
Sharon Gold is a member of the Firm’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution Service Team. She concentrates her practice in the area of labor and employment and commercial litigation. Ms. Gold has experience defending employers in a variety of lawsuits, both at the administrative and civil complaint level, including defense of claims brought pursuant to the: FLSA, FMLA, Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, ERISA litigation, ADA, ADEA, Kentucky Civil Rights Act, Kentucky Wage and Hour Act,... Read More