New California Sexual Harassment Training Law Approved by Governor Brown

On October 1, 2018 California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 1343, which amends the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) to require non-managerial employees to receive bi-annual training on the prevention of sexual harassment, gender identity issues and the prevention of abusive conduct in the workplace by January 1, 2020 (or within six months of assuming their position).

On October 1, 2018 California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 1343 

Although this sweeping change is sure to be burdensome for employers, organizations can rest somewhat easier on the grounds that the required training for non-managerial employees will only be one hour in duration (as opposed to the two hour requirement currently in place). Please take note that managers and supervisors will still be required to receive bi-annual sexual harassment training as has been the case in the past.

The new requirement is part of a series of sweeping changes to California’s FEHA 

The new requirement is part of a series of sweeping changes to California’s FEHA, that are in accord with changes that went into effect in New York and other states. The new training requirements are just one component of those laws.

In response to these changes Syntrio is well prepared to offer your employees both industry-leading sexual harassment training for California managers and a one-hour course that covers the needs of non-managerial employees. In the coming months we will be rolling out a completely refreshed California non-manager course that will truly set the standard for interactive online training in this industry.

Contact Syntrio to schedule a demonstration of our California courseware.

Syntrio invites you to contact us to schedule a demonstration of our California (and other state) courseware with one of our representatives at your earliest convenience. It is never too early to get a head start on fulfilling your requirement for California training, especially given the California legislature’s comment that those employees who receive training by January 1, 2019 will not have to re-train when at the January 2020 deadline!

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.

Angels in the Workplace? Accusations of Harassment Leave the Navy Feeling Blue

For a human resources professional or high level executive, some of the worst possible terms to land in the subject line of an email include “porn,” “homophobia,” and “harassment.” Each on its own is enough to give upper management a small heart attack. Unfortunately, the United States’ most famous aerial performers recently faced this triumvirate of HR evil.

According to a recent CNN.com report, the Blue Angels aerial performers have been accused of flying with pornographic material in their cockpits, making homophobic slurs, and constantly degrading women. The CNN report stated that at one point things got so bad that an image of a male genitalia adorned a Blue Angels hangar. This image was so large that it was detected by Google Maps satellites. All of this behavior allegedly created a hostile working environment, according to a recent complaint against the organization.

After the aforementioned tomfoolery was tolerated within the Blue Angels for years (and even arguably perpetuated by high-level commanders), a service member filed a complaint in 2014 for the “toxic” atmosphere that had been created within the Blue Angels. Although an internal inquiry is currently underway, it is easy to foresee the likely forthcoming lawsuits. 

Offensive and Harassing Conduct Can Take Many Forms

As the Blue Angels case study shows, harassing workplace conduct reaches far beyond degrading comments toward women.  In fact, one of the more common forms of harassment allegations stem from offensive imagery on computer monitors and within emails. Further, many employees believe it is acceptable to have off-color discussions about sex, sexual orientation, and gender so long as the person they are conversing with has the same or similar views. This belief is not only antiquated, it fails to take into account the fact that anyone could overhear the offensive comments or see the offensive imagery, thereby creating the basis for a sex harassment claim. It also fails to consider that a person may feel under pressure not to complain about offensive conduct. 

In today’s litigious society it is ever important for human resources managers and executives to remain up to date as to the types of conduct they need to watch out for to ensure an effective workplace.   

Online Sexual Harassment Training Programs Can Prevent Hostile Working Environments

The standard argument coming from the Blue Angels side will likely be that higher-ups did not know what was going on. Unfortunately, hiding one’s head in the sand is unlikely to be successful under any set of facts, much less when a pervasive environment of sexual comments and behavior was allowed to persist. The Navy has since set up awareness training from various equal opportunity programs to rid the Blue Angels of the smut. This case just goes to show that anti-harassment training is necessary in every organization, particularly for managers and supervisors. Sadly, no organization is immune to conduct and circumstances that can lead to claims of sexual harassment and other forms of unlawful harassment

Syntrio, Inc. specializes in providing sexual harassment prevention and HR compliance training in an extremely comprehensive yet cost-effective and time sensitive manner. Contact us today at 888-289-6670 to discuss the ways Syntrio, Inc. can help your supervisors and HR Professionals ensure that they are up to date with state and federal laws regarding employment equality and workplace diversity training.

 

 

Settling Sex Harassment Cases is an Expensive “Proposition”

Sex Harassment Lawsuits: “It Won’t Happen To Me.” 

Many business owners or high-level executives believe they have the business acumen to avoid hiring managers who will commit egregious acts of sexual harassment in the workplace. They use hiring tactics they feel will be enough for sexual harassment prevention. Unfortunately, it is impossible to truly know everything about a manager, and it is even harder to keep tabs on changes in the manager’s personality as time passes. As such, when an employee brings a claim of sexual harassment, the frequent course of action advised by management-side employment attorneys is to settle the case.

Settling Lawsuits Brings Unnecessary Costs

On average, the cost of settling a civil sexual harassment lawsuit ranges from four to five figures. Nevertheless, many attorneys for plaintiffs boast claims of six and seven figure settlements on their websites, and these figures do not take into account the high-profile seven and eight figure verdicts that are reported when these cases go to trial. While paying out a five figure settlement may be seen by some business owners as “the high cost of doing business,” such settlements set a precedent within the workplace that sexual harassment will be allowed to persist so long as the employer is willing to “pay off” the victims. This is not a culture that leads to a productive workplace. Conversely, when employees know that managers are receiving proper training to avoid incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace, a more productive culture is fostered.

Case Study: New Jersey Township Pays $25,000 Settlement to EMT Sexually Harassed by Deputy Chief

On May 27, 2014, the South Jersey Times reported that a deputy sent a subordinate employee text messages propositioning her for sex. After the employee complained to the Department, the deputy asked to speak with her alone. A Department investigation revealed that the employee may have had a consensual relationship with the deputy, but it was unclear.

This case presents a classic “he said-she said” case of sexual harassment. The text messages were obviously damaging to the Township’s case, yet there was evidence that the two were involved in a consensual relationship. Amid uncertain facts, the Township paid a $25,000 settlement to resolve the case. Importantly, the Township did not have any policy for sexual harassment training at any time relevant to the aforementioned incident. Had the Department implemented such a policy, the alleged harassing conduct and resulting lawsuit could have been easily prevented.

Sexual Harassment Training Can Save Costs and Increase Employee Productivity

With the advent of e-learning and online compliance training, developing sexual harassment prevention policies has become easier and more cost-effective than ever. Online training companies like Syntrio, Inc. provide training courses and materials with respect to sexual harassment and retaliation prevention.

Syntrio, Inc. specializes in providing sexual harassment prevention and HR compliance training in an extremely comprehensive yet cost-effective and time sensitive manner. Contact us today at 888-289-6670 to discuss the ways Syntrio, Inc. can help your supervisors and HR professionals ensure that they are up to date with state and federal laws regarding equality and workplace diversity training.