No. However, failing to train employees can result in a fine under the General Duty Clause, since sexual harassment can be identified as a "recognized hazard". The strain of sexual harassment is certainly connected to the general health and safety of employees, and can manifest as increased stress (and consequent physical ailments), inability to focus [on work], and workplace violence or fear of personal safety. Furthermore, an untrained employee may lack the ability to effectively respond to the harassment, or may not be aware of what legal protection is available. However, training may be mandatory in certain states and under certain respective laws. For instance, California state law requires employers to provide supervisory employees with two hours of interactive sexual harassment training (repeated every two years). The regulation extends to employers who interact with 50+ employees or contractors in any given 20-week period (consecutive weeks) of the year, and there is no requirement that all 50 people work or reside in the same state.
Are we required to protect employees from non-employee sexual harassment (i.e. customers, vendors, etc.)?
Yes. Under Title VII of the Supreme Court, employers are responsible for harassment by non-employees and independent contractors in the worksite. Employees have the right to be free from unlawful sexual harassment in the workplace, regardless of the harasser’s status or position. This furthermore exemplifies how critical it is that employers and employees alike are aware of their rights and responsibilities concerning sexual harassment. The employer’s liability, of course, is confined to the workplace; the employer is not liable for harassment by a non-employee committed outside the workplace.
An employee made inappropriate sexual comments to another employee prior to receiving sexual harassment training. Can that employee be fired on that basis?
Since sexual harassment training is not mandatory in some situations, it would not make a legal difference (in light of the repercussions) if the inappropriate comments happened before or after the training. By law, sexual harassment may include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal/physical harassment of a sexual nature. The law doesn’t prohibit unassuming teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that aren’t very serious. If an employee complains about sexual harassment of any nature (regardless of how offhand or informal), the employer has a legal and ethical responsibility to thoroughly investigate charges. If the investigation yields proof of actual sexual harassment, formal sanctions should be imposed; these range from a written reprimand to removal of management duties to work suspension or termination. Therefore, the employer has the right to fire the employee if the sexual harassment is considered a hazard to other employees.
Should I provide sexual harassment training to all employees or just supervisors?
It is strongly recommended that all employees receive sexual harassment training.
DVD cost effectively trains and retrains an unlimited amount of employees.
No trainer required, just pop in and play.
Video content keeps trainees engaged.
Very convenient, multiple employees don’t need to be pulled off the floor at once for a training session.
Includes both video content and an interactive quiz element to keep workers engaged.
More engaging than traditional training formats.
Can be customized to fit a companies specific work environment and equipment.
The only training option that can cover the "hands on" and "evaluation" portions of the training in addition to the "classroom" portion of the training.
Can be difficult to pull multiple workers off the floor at once to watch the video.
The DVD can get lost or scratched.
DVD can only train workers at a single location.
Due to the per person pricing format, it’s expensive for large companies that need to train hundreds or thousands of employees.
By far the most expensive training medium.
Administering refresher training as well as initial training for new employees can be a logistical nightmare.
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