Over 30 years ago, in 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that sexual harassment is a form of sexual discrimination. From that time forward, employers have sought to mitigate their liability and damages with respect to sexual harassment scandals in their workplace. However, over three decades later, the approach to sexual harassment in the workplace has not changed that much, and the number of sexual harassment suits remains just as high. Abuse still exists even in this new online workplace era.
Definition of Sexual Harassment
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has legalized your right to a safe work environment, free from sexual harassment.
It is important to note that sexual harassment includes any of the following:
- Any major or minor unwanted or unwelcome physical touching or contact
- Any form of sexual advances, including verbal offers or requests
- The display or sending of any sexually suggestive explicit pictures via electronic means or posted in offices or public areas
- Any lewd, explicit or sexually suggestive text messages, email, or postings on any social media platform, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
- Any sexually suggestive comments directed at you or around you
Types of Sexual Harassment Training
An employer must take such sexual harassment in the workplace seriously, and attempt to address the issue within company literature, employee handbooks, and online trainings. Most sexual harassment trainings take place as an online webinar or PowerPoint presentation that employees complete independently. A quiz typically follows that an employee will answer, and the training, and education, is complete as far as the employer is concerned.
Sexual Harassment Training and Employer Liability
Employers continue to offer these avenues to minimize their liability if sexual harassment claims are brought against them. That exact perspective may be precisely the problem. If the goal of a training regarding sexual harassment is only to prevent legal liability for the company, then the true purpose (education and prevention of sexual harassment) are not met. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) concluded in a 2016 report that sexual harassment trainings fail because they are typically, “too focused on simply avoiding legal liability.” However, as long as the training has been completed by the employees, employers have often successfully escaped litigation.
New Approaches to Sexual Harassment Training
Studies show that an effective sexual harassment training includes an actual effort by the employer to create a meaningful cultural shift in the attitudes and behavior in the workplace with regard to sexual harassment. The goal should not be to check a box that a mandatory training was completed, but rather that the true root of the harassment culture is addressed. Oftentimes, in-person, group trainings regarding sexual harassment in the workplace have proven more effective than individual online trainings.
Contact an Attorney
At California Employment Counsel, APC, we know that sexual harassment training videos do not prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. If your employer refuses to take your grievance seriously and attempts to exculpate themselves from liability by relying on the fact that mandatory sexual harassment training was made available to all employees, contact one of our experienced attorneys today.
Even if your employer has offered sexual harassment training in the workplace, you can still report the abuse, file a claim, and pursue legal action. Our experienced Orange County sexual harassment lawyers offer a free consultation to discuss your case of sexual harassment in the workplace. Contact us online or call (714) 462-8376 to discuss your legal rights today.