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.

Missouri House of Representatives Receives Sexual Harassment Training

In January 2016 all members of the Missouri House of Representatives attended a live training session aimed at reducing the number of sexual harassment scandals appearing on the evening news. Indeed, the mandatory training was scheduled in response to the recent resignations of the former Missouri Speaker of the House and a State senator, both of whom resigned amid allegations of inappropriate behavior with college-aged interns in recent years.

In response to the scandals, the state legislative body approved a plan to have all members and their staff attend two training sessions. In addition to the training sessions, lawmakers will now have a new complaint system whereby employees working with the House of Representatives will easier be able to lodge complaints of sexual harassment which will be heard by an independent ombudsman.

As part of the training overhaul, the online training system in place for incoming senators will be expanded, and will include new rules for dealing with members of the State’s intern program, which draws interns from public universities for the four and one half month legislative session.

Under the new training program, legislators will be given a lengthy list of acceptable and unacceptable behavior, including behavior to avoid such as sexual comments, innuendos, or suggestive comments about body image, choice of clothes, or sexual activity. Importantly, the training will cover electronic based harassment such as text messages and voice mails to co-workers.

Sexual Harassment Training Can Reduce the Number of Claims

When asked about the new training regimen the current House Speaker mentioned “there is no rule or law that can make our imperfect process perfect...” While this statement may be correct, Syntrio has years of expertise providing online sexual harassment training to companies and government agencies of all sizes. In our experience, those that receive the training are better prepared to make the proper decisions when faced with a situation where questionable conduct could arise.

California sexual harassment training is somewhat unique in that it is mandatory per statute (as is also the case in Maine and Connecticut). In those states where training is not mandatory it is very likely that some or all of the scandals that led to the recent reactive “rush to train” scenarios would never have occurred if proactive training were adopted by companies and government agencies. While the Missouri House Speaker is correct that it is impossible to prevent all incidents of sexual harassment, the evidence shows that sexual harassment training works as an educational deterrent to objectionable behavior.

Syntrio’s sexual harassment training courses use real life scenarios and calculated hypotheticals to teach the dangers of allowing harassment to persist at your company. By discussing real cases and developing vignettes based on reality your managers will not only learn the federal and state discrimination laws, they will see how they apply in the workplace. Indeed, our courses do not just teach the “black letter law,” they have true practical value for your managers and employees that many competing courses do not.

Syntrio is committed to helping businesses avoid the costly mistakes associated with sexual harassment. We are also able to custom-tailor our courses to fit the needs of your business. Contact Syntrio for more information about our employment discrimination courses for employees and management and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on compliance issues that may 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.