Effective training enables your organization to comply with all legal requirements, thereby avoiding costly lawsuits, audits, and fines. Supervisors, who are the organization’s front line, play a particularly critical role in the training process. They must:
- Understand what training is required by law.
- Be familiar and comfortable with organizational policies and with employment-related laws.
- Adhere carefully to proper and legal practices and ensure that their employees do the same.
- Identify training needs and topics and decide who needs training.
Develop a Training Plan for Legal Compliance
Employee training was once considered an optional benefit that only the most forward-looking employers provided to the most promising employees. Now, federal law requires training in many health- and safety-related areas. Other key areas of HR training are sexual harassment, discrimination, and ethics. Over the next few issues of the Advisor, we provide an overview of what should be covered in employee training in the areas of harassment, discrimination, safety, and ethics. We’ll also provide suggestions for other types of training you should consider for a more productive and efficient workplace.
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The Supreme Court has ruled that employers may be held liable for sexual harassment if they did not exercise reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any such behavior in the workplace—even if they were not aware of the behavior. The Supreme Court’s decision highlights the vital importance of sexual harassment training. In light of increased costs of litigation—not to mention the large sums of money often awarded to plaintiff-employees by juries—training programs are a relatively small but absolutely critical investment. Effective sexual harassment training must involve all managers (to the highest level) and supervisors, as well as rank-and-file employees.
The following list outlines critical information that should be conveyed in your sexual harassment training program. Note that there may be important state law issues that you should also address. In your training program:
- Define sexual harassment.
- Consider the laws that prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace.
- Give examples of what conduct constitutes sexual harassment.
- Give examples of what is not sexual harassment.
- Explain the specific forms of harassment: tangible employment action and hostile environment.
- Outline who can commit sexual harassment.
- Explain who can experience sexual harassment.
- Explain under what conditions sexual harassment can occur.
- Tell employees whom to report to if sexual harassment should occur.
- Discuss when an employer is liable.
- Outline the objectives of a workplace sexual harassment policy.
- Explain everyone’s role in achieving the policy objectives of the organization.
- Show how to prevent sexual harassment from occurring.
- Outline the employee’s responsibilities.
- Train employees to use reasonable care to make a good-faith effort to avoid the harm of harassment and promptly utilize internal complaint procedures.
- Outline the responsibilities managers and employers have to address the harassment.
- Explain what steps should be taken to ensure a thorough investigation.
- Explain what to do if an employee does not cooperate with the investigation.
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In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll look at discrimination and safety training and check out a comprehensive online training resource that gives you all the content you need to cover critical training requirements.