2015 Sexual harassment — Time to update your policy!
- On 22 February 2015
- Posted by Chantal Mariotti
Harassment is a delicate, but necessary issue that should be addressed in every work environment. With proper training, managers and employees can detect when sexual harassment is taking place in the work environment and have the proper knowledge as to how to address or report such behavior. Aside from preventing lawsuits against the company, proper training can bring awareness and sensitivity to your staff. Harassment in the workplace is against the law; and there are consequences if harassment is found.
What is sexual harassment? Sexual harassment can vary from inappropriate comments to more serious unwelcomed sexual advances that can occur in the workplace. Employers are required to take appropriate action to protect all employees from such behavior. Sexual harassment training will help you and your employees define and identify sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as take appropriate measures for resolving any incidents of harassment. A company cannot ignore any claims of sexual harassment and any allegations of such must be thoroughly investigated immediately.
For larger companies, sexual harassment training is required by law. Current legislation requires managers in companies that have more than 50 employees to participate in two hours of sexual harassment training, which is to be conducted every two years.
What is harassment? Harassment is any unwelcomed behavior that may be linked to a protected category, such as gender identity, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, etc. Harassment in the workplace is against the law. All employees have the right to go to work, do their job, and then go home; free of any type of hostility or harassment in their workplace.
Abusive Conduct. Assembly Bill 2053 and the legislation defines “abusive conduct” as “conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests.” Abusive conduct may include repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance. A single act shall not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe and egregious.
Harassment training is in the best interest of your company. Although the current legislation only applies to companies with 50 or more employees, we strongly recommend that all employees and managers complete the training regardless of the size of the company. Small companies are still required by law to have a harassment policy, and are responsible for protecting the rights of their employees. After training, everyone will have a better understanding of what harassment is and what to do when they see, or personally encounter such a situation.
Make sure you update your employee handbook this year to include the new “Abusive Conduct” component to your Harassment Policy!
Call us at (818) 845-5584 to learn more about how to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.