Does Your Harassment Training Need a Makeover?

The #MeToo movement grew exponentially due to the availability of the internet as an avenue for victims of harassment to express their protest of bad acts and actors in the workplace. Like any internet phenomenon, the movement has spawned a backlash against training programs provided to employees (and perceptions about the reasons training is actually given). It wouldn’t be the internet without a daily article about why training is ineffective or a “top six reasons why your harassment training will fail” garnering retweets, likes and links in internet generated blog posts (like this one).

While the general consensus that harassment training as currently constructed has some truth, and the motivations behind spending millions of dollars on training can rightfully be questioned, where the criticism articles go wrong is their failure to emphasize the approach taken by online and live training providers as opposed to highlighting the “boring” and “thoughtless” approach taken by many lawyers and internet training providers tasked with providing one and two hour trainings for groups of managers and employees.

Where we differ from other industry providers is in our unique approach 

Syntrio prides itself on taking the criticism of the e-learning industry to heart and implementing changes in our products in response to changes in the times and tastes of employees across all industries. Where we differ from other industry providers is in our unique approach aimed at resonating with the user to change his or her behavior regardless of illegality as a means of actually preventing incidents.

As the Think Progress article linked above eloquently states, all too many training providers are focused on long lessons in black-letter law while failing to illustrate the practical implications of bad workplace behavior. Indeed, there is more to cultural change than knowing what is “illegal,” rather employees need to be instructed on how civility in the workplace can improve the overall experience for one another.

Improving workplace culture to a level of total inclusiveness

Syntrio’s video and text-based scenarios illustrate more than just the fine legal points of harassment law. Indeed, our training programs are aimed at changing or improving workplace culture to a level of far more than tolerance, but to a level of total inclusiveness. By doing so, employees feel comfortable reporting any and all perceived misconduct, not just potentially illegal misconduct. This approach makes the workplace a better place to spend time and in turn, a safer place to do so as well.

We invite you a demonstration of our approach to learning, from full-scale training programs to micro-learning courses to very brief ethical snapshots, we know you will have a refreshed look at what training can be when it goes beyond a law school lecture and into a tactical discussion on improving workplace culture.


Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content
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Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.


Written by, Jon Gonzalez, Esq., Chief Counsel for Syntrio

 

New California Independent Contractor Standard Complicates things for Employers

Employers have long used independent contractors for a variety of means. Perhaps your business has a project-specific job set to run a fixed length of time that can only be done by a specific type of individual, who you will not need after the job is done. Perhaps your business likes to substitute contractors for employees to avoid the administrative hassles involved in hiring employees and paying the associated payroll taxes that go along with their employ. One of the foregoing situations is an appropriate use of a contractor, the other is not. In a new California Supreme Court decision, the state’s highest court has added some clarity as to when and how an individual can be classified as an independent contractor.

When employers misclassify employees as independent contractors, they can be liable for significant overtime penalties, but also for denied benefits (given to regular employees) and other significant exposure that can make a seemingly small problem a big mess. In Dynamex Operations West v. Lee, the California Supreme Court set forth a new standard known as the “ABC” test for properly classifying a worker as an independent contractor. While “ABC” sounds simple, make no mistake, this new standard will make it much more difficult for California employers to prove that someone working for their business was an independent contractor and not an employee.

The ABC Test

The ABC test presumes employment under the California wage and hour laws unless a business can prove that all of the following conditions are met:

Factor A

Factor A requires the business must not dictate the control and direction of the employee’s work. This means contractors must be free to set their own hours and totally come and go as they please. Many companies run into problems with this step when they require contractors to be involved in regular or semi-regular meetings, for example.

Factor B

Factor B requires the entity to prove that the contractor’s services are outside the usual course of the entity’s business. The best example of this is an accounting firm who needs someone to cut the grass outside their building once a week. Such work would not fall within the purview of accounting, and therefore would pass factor B. Alternatively, where a tech company hires a contractor to do some coding on a website for its client it is a lot more difficult to prove the work was outside the usual course of the tech company’s business.

Factor C

Finally, factor C requires a business to prove the existence of a contractor’s independent operation such as a business license, tax identification, incorporation, and work for other customers or clients.

When taken in conjunction you can see that California has done its best to do away with the use of independent contractors. If you have employees in that state we strongly encourage you to contact Syntrio today to schedule a demonstration of our California wage and hour training. Further, no matter what state you may operate in, it would be of great benefit for you to review your policies and procedures, as the use of independent contractors as a substitute for employees has fallen further out of favor under the federal scheme as well.


Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content
.

 


Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.


Written by, Jon Gonzalez, Esq., Chief Counsel for Syntrio

 

Connecticut Enacts Law Barring Employers from Asking About Prior Compensation

Beginning on January 1, 2019 Connecticut employers of all sizes will no longer be allowed to inquire into prospective employees’ past compensation and compensation structures. On May 22, 2018 Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy signed into law the “Act Concerning Pay Equity,” a new law aimed at protecting prospective employee privacy with respect to past compensation.

On May 22, 2018, Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy signed into law the Act Concerning Pay Equity

Unlike some other similar laws around the country, Connecticut’s law will likely apply to any employee who files an application or interviews with a company in that state. In addition to inquiries about wage and salary history, the new law will prohibit employers from asking questions that may reveal the type and structure of compensation and the value of individual elements of how an employee was paid at his or her former jobs.

Important for employers to understand, violations of this new law will be serious, and can have financial implications if it is not followed. Indeed, the Act Concerning Pay Equity creates a private right of action for prospective employees to bring a claim against the employer. This claim will likely also be tied to discrimination or other employment law claims that could subject an employer to very costly litigation far into the future, as the claims carry a two-year statute of limitation.

Now may be a good time to review your company’s hiring policies

Now may be a good time to review your company’s hiring policies and/or application materials, and to re-train hiring managers to ensure they are no longer asking questions about salary history or compensation structure. It can be easy to fall into traps during an interview when employees begin asking questions about how they will be paid at their new job, if hired. Unless an employee offers up his prior pay unsolicited, your managers should never ask any questions that may even be probative of salary history or past compensation.

We strongly recommend consulting with our representatives to learn more about the training resources Syntrio offers to prevent wage and hour issues in the workplace. Syntrio’s subject matter experts are well in tune with changes to the law, and can help you and your company craft a plan of prevention that suits your business needs, no matter its size. We invite you to contact us today at 888-289-6670 or by filling out the online form available here.

Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content.


Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.


 

California Sexual Harassment Training Requirements May Soon Broaden

Always a leader in employee-friendly legislation, California could not be undone by the recent New York City and New York State training requirements aimed at preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. Indeed, on May 30, 2018, the California State Senate passed SB 1343, which seeks to broaden sexual harassment training requirements already in place under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). already in place under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

California may soon require ALL employees to receive training 

Should SB 1343 be signed into law (and there is no indication it will not sometime this summer) California would require all employees in workplaces larger than 5 employees to receive bi-annual two-hour training on sexual harassment prevention, abusive conduct in the workplace, and bystander intervention by 2020. The current requirement is limited to supervisory employees in workplaces employing 50 or more employees. Such a move would obviously be significant, as it would create an onerous requirement on employers to scramble for new training and force existing providers to adjust their programs to fit the new needs of an exponential number of new small businesses were the bill to pass.

As always, Syntrio remains ahead of the curve on these matters, and is already well into development on revised versions of our AB1825 courseware and a new, non-managerial employee version of the course. Although we recommend providing all employees training as a matter of company policy, obviously the California legislature’s attempt to take matters into its own hands is forcing the issue.

Stay tuned to Syntrio’s blog for further updates on this developing story. 

Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content.


Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.


 

Minnesota State Legislature Aims to Make Sweeping Changes to Sexual Harassment Laws

The wave of sexual harassment and #MeToo legislation does not appear to be cresting anytime soon, as Minnesota is the latest state with employers in its crosshairs. After months of debate, the Minnesota state legislature seeks to enact a series of laws that would make sweeping changes to the State’s sexual harassment laws. Despite their best intentions, you should keep in mind that when these sorts of changes occur they are never good for the employer.

Minnesota Seeks to Eliminate “Severe and Pervasive” Standard

The first proposed change to Minnesota’s sexual harassment law is an elimination of the decades-old “severe and pervasive” standard for evaluating misconduct that is arguably harassing. Under the current standard, in order to be sexual harassment, conduct must be “unwelcome or unwanted, offensive to a reasonable person, and severe and/or pervasive in nature.” This means that simple jokes and offensive comments that are one off do not generally constitute workplace harassment. Were Minnesota to get its way this year, every comment or incident of inappropriate behavior could be grounds for a harassment claim.

Important to note, the proposed legislative change has been met with severe opposition from the business community and local governments, which [correctly] claim changing the law will lead to a wave of litigation and unnecessary financial burden. With any luck, the legislature will see the danger in adding this new language to Minnesota’s already stringent statutory prohibition on sexual harassment and will keep the status quo to help employers avoid a new wave of litigation.

Non-Disclosure Language in Sexual Harassment Suits in Jeopardy

Another important proposed change seeks to eliminate non-disclosure language in sexual harassment settlement agreements. This proposed change tracks similar legislation in New York and California and is aimed at making incidents more high-profile and public. The current majority of sexual harassment settlement agreements include confidentiality language prohibiting both parties from disparaging one another in the event the parties reach a settlement on a claim of sexual harassment. This is standard language that keep the matter private and avoids big press on incidents. Should the proposed change pass, employers would no longer be able to bargain for non-disclosure. This sort of language will likely cause settlement figures to drop and more cases to go to trial, as employers will be less likely to provide compensation knowing they will likely be all over the news and deemed “guilty” without even going to trial.

We strongly recommend consulting with our representatives to learn more about the training resources Syntrio offers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Syntrio’s subject matter experts are well in tune with changes to the law, and can help you and your company craft a plan of prevention that suits your business needs, no matter its size. We invite you to contact us today at 888-289-6670 or by filling out the online form available here.

Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content.


Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.