By Molly Wood, SDEA HR Consultant
As you probably know by now, in the aftermath of the great harassment scandals of 2017, California has expanded legislation surrounding Harassment Prevention Training. The new law requires that supervisory employees are provided with two hours of training and all other employees (including seasonal and temporary workers) one hour of training to be complete by January 1, 2020. And this mandate is applicable to employers with as few as five employees, a big drop from the former 50+ employee decree.
So, a few bad apples have made more hoops for all business owners to jump through. You may be thinking that there must be a way to make this fast and easy, and there is, but it might not be the way you were assuming. Before you go through the effort of researching a quick fix, here are three common misconceptions regarding the essential features and functions of a compliant training program.
1. I can just have my employees and supervisors watch a video.
In order to meet standards, harassment prevention training must be interactive. This can be achieved through classroom style training, webinar, or interactive e-learning. If you choose to go with the e-learning approach, the training must provide instructions on how to contact a trainer who will answer questions within two business days. If a question is asked and not answered, that training is no longer valid. Questions during a webinar or in a classroom setting can be answered on the spot and subsequently meet requirements.
Employers cannot have supervisors and/or employees watch or listen to a pre-recorded training to comply with the new law.
2. I know how to prevent harassment! I can conduct a training myself.
The California DFHE establishes three types of qualified trainers:
a) Attorneys who have been members of the bar of any state for at least two years and whose practice includes employment law under the Fair Employment and Housing Act or the federal Title VII;
b) Human resources professionals or harassment prevention consultants with at least two years practical experience with discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and investigations;
c) Law school, college, or university instructors with a post-graduate degree or California teaching credential and 20 hours of instruction experience about applicable employment law.
3. I already have a harassment free work environment. It’s no big deal if I don’t do the harassment prevention training.
If you are not discussing harassment prevention, people will frequently not even notice if they are doing it.
As an example, in a case involving the New York Knicks, $11.6 million in punitive damages was awarded to a former executive because the head coach called her a “B*%ch” and “Ho” to her face and later made a “thinly veiled solicitation for sex”. These were two individuals in high ranking positions in the organization. The head coach may have thought his comments were taken as a joke, or that because they were both in positions of power it would not be considered harassment. $11.6 million ended that notion. While your organizations pockets are likely not as deep as the New York Knicks, imagine what even $500 thousand in punitive damages would do to your business! Not to mention the bad press coverage, your reputation on “the street” (social media) with prospective employees, and the low employee morale that comes with all these negative repercussions.
Fortunately, San Diego Employers Association offers training that meets all the legal standards, provides an interactive environment, is led by qualified and engaging instructors, and can actually be fun!
Protect your business by enrolling your supervisors and employees in SDEA’s Harassment Prevention live training or webinars. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!