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
.

 


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

 

Vermont Passes New Sexual Harassment Law

In the latest example of “keeping up with the Joneses,” last week Vermont passed new legislation aimed at reducing (and publicizing) incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace. Similar to laws passed in many other states in the wake of the #MeToo movement, Vermont’s new law guarantees independent contractors, volunteers, and interns a working environment “free from harassment,” just as it does regular employees.

Changes to Settlement Agreements

Vermont no longer allows companies to prohibit individuals who have settled claims of sexual harassment with the employer from working with that organization in the future. This is a sweeping change that is unique in the country, in that it makes it easier for employees who resolve claims to return to their jobs, or work for the company where the incident occurred in the future.

Investigation Procedures Revamped

Investigation practices are also changing under the new Vermont sexual harassment law. Prior to the passage of this legislation the Vermont Attorney General did not have the specific right to visit places of employment and examine their harassment prevention practices. Beginning July 1, employers will need to watch out for representatives from the Vermont Department of Human Rights auditing practices or even ordering training sessions if they find deficiencies in organizational harassment prevention tactics.

Online Filing System Implemented for Charges of Harassment

Lastly, Vermont’s new law is making it easier for complainants to file charges of sexual harassment and discrimination by allowing charges to be filed wholly online. By eliminating physical steps to be taken, the legislature aims to streamline the process in hopes that more victims will come forward with allegations of harassment. Of course, whenever state legislatures take these steps it makes it easier for frivolous claims to also be filed, which is why educating your workforce on what harassment is (and is not) has become all the more important in the wake of the new law.

If you have employees in Vermont we encourage you to contact a member of Syntrio’s staff to learn more about training options that are available to you and your organization.

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

 

Retaliation Claims are on the Rise: How to Avoid Them

As reporting on suspected wrongdoing reaches historic highs, 2017 saw a 100 percent increase in retaliation claims. The 2018 Global Business Ethics Survey uncovered this shocking statistic. Driving the higher numbers are social and demographic trends, along with expanded employment laws at the state and federal levels that provide expanded protection of employees against retaliation.

The onus to prevent it, under U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulations, is squarely upon the employer, making it illegal to fire, demote, harass or otherwise retaliate for these reasons against either job applicants or employees. Retaliation can be stealthy and difficult to catch, so employers must be diligent and methodical in efforts to prevent it.

There are several critical elements to doing so:

Ensure a robust policy and documentation process is in place.
Policies must be highly defined and regularly communicated to everyone in the organization. And the moment human resources or any member of management hears of a complaint, they must document every single detail—everything contained in the complaint, every action taken by the company, and every conversation had with other employees.

Maintain confidentiality while investigating and resolving a complaint.
The more members of the organization who are brought into the discussion, the more likely it becomes that someone will make a comment or take an action that could be construed as retaliation. Limit the players to those immediately involved, and stress strict confidentiality to each.

Work with both sides of the complaint.
Emotions run very high when misconduct is reported. When an employee files a complaint, take it seriously and with discretion, treat them with respect, and let them know the organization will not abide retaliatory behavior. At the same time, realize the employee against whom the complaint is filed will probably be quite upset and defensive. Remind him or her of what constitutes retaliation and its potential consequences for the company.

Training is imperative.
In recent years, legal developments have significantly broadened the scope of anti-retaliation protection and lowered the burden for establishing unlawful behavior. This has given rise to the spike in retaliation claims and has made them much more difficult to defend. It is critical to educate managers and supervisors.

Syntrio’s 45-minute course, Preventing Unlawful Retaliation, discusses the protections afforded to employees under various employment laws. Using scenarios and case studies, the course discusses the types of work-related activities that are protected by law, the types of behavior that can lead to a charge, and the risks of failing to take steps to prevent unlawful retaliation in the workplace.

 

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.


 

New York Passes Anti-Harassment Legislation: Let Syntrio Fulfill Your New Training Need

The past week has seen the harassment landscape in New York State change forever, as Governor Cuomo signed into law the New York State Legislature’s anti-harassment budget. Not to be outdone, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign into law the “NYC Act,” which will amend New York City human rights law. Both laws create new requirements for employers in the city and state, but perhaps the most daunting requirement in each law is a mandate that employers within the State and City provide annual anti-harassment training for employees.

More than Just Training Requirements

In addition to the training mandate, the NYC Act brings several categories of workers under its umbrella, including contractors, subcontractor, vendors, consultants, and other persons who were not previously protected from misconduct by the City’s human rights laws. Further, the New York State law prohibits the use of nondisclosure (confidentiality) provisions in settlement or arbitration agreements relating to sexual harassment claims. Finally, the State law requires the distribution mandatory written policies aimed at prohibiting harassment in the workplace. In short, these laws, enacted within days of one another have created a significant burden on New York State and City employers, and the requirements begin going into effect soon.

Harassment Training Requirements

Because Syntrio is engaged in the business of fulfilling e-learning solutions to your harassment training needs, the crux of this article will focus on the requirements New York State and New York City have placed on employers with regard to training. You should first know that many of the articles you are reading claiming full knowledge of the requirements of these new laws are making assumptions before the laws are product[s]. Although the State and City laws provide a road map for what is coming, you should expect that regulations will be enacted to assist with implementation and compliance with both pieces of legislation that may ultimately change an analysis and interpretation of what is required in the training that is becoming mandatory in New York. So stay tuned for updates, as what we think we know at this moment may (and likely will) change.

What we Know

The New York State law is explicit in its requirement that employers must provide training to all employees. Unlike California, where supervisors must be trained once every two years on the avoidance of sexual harassment, the New York State law requires that each and every employee your company employs be provided the training annually. The laws also tell us that the New York Department of Labor will develop a model program that will be compliant and will be available for download by October 9, 2018.

Although the State has taken on the task of developing a model training that can allegedly be used by all employers, we can nearly assure you that there will be difficulty with using the State’s model training for your organization (we all know one-size-fits-all is not a quality approach to training), and this is a big reason why we are here to help. Syntrio’s training is more engaging, more concise, and more effective than what the State will be able to produce due to our vast experience and top-notch expertise in the field.

What We Don't Know: Murky Requirements (For Now)

Although the laws themselves tell us very little about the requirements of the law as they will actually be interpreted by the State and City (including the potential length requirement –likely between 1-2 hours-) we do know that the training you provide must be interactive, and provide an explanation of sexual harassment. Training must also provide examples of unlawful harassment, and discuss the federal and state statutes and remedies available to victims of harassment. Further, methods of addressing complaints (both administratively and judicially) must be discussed. In addition, the training you provide must clearly state that sexual harassment is a form of employee misconduct and sanctions will be levied against those who witness and allow it to continue, and must also mention that retaliation against those who complain is illegal.

How Can Syntrio Help?

Unquestionably, there is a lot to digest in the paragraphs above. Fortunately for you, Syntrio is always ahead of the curve when it comes to new harassment legislation and we have already begun pre-developing a course tailored to meet the needs of New York employers as the laws develop. Although the training requirement goes into effect on October 9, 2018, it is unclear at this moment when the training must be completed by all employees. Before you rush to get training complete prior to the enactment deadline, please check with Syntrio to ensure that you get the course that best suits your needs and is fully compliant with the requirements of both the New York State and New York City laws.

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