The state of California has taken a stand against sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment is still common in many work environments, despite more and more awareness of the effects and issues of sexual harassment. As of last year, training is required for every company with more than five employees. These training sessions must take place within six months of an employee starting their job and must be renewed every two years.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is any unwelcome behaviour, including verbal, physical, or visual, of a sexual nature or pertaining to someone’s gender. These behaviours can be directed at an individual, a group, or a specific gender. Most people assume sexual harassment is sexual advances, but it can include derogatory comments, jokes, or behaviours directed at someone based on their gender or gender identity.
Because of its unclear definitions in society, sexual harassment is commonly unreported or misunderstood. When people don’t understand what behaviours constitute sexual harassment, they are more likely to let those behaviours slide.
Sexual Harassment Training
Sexual harassment training in California has several requirements on the when and how training sessions are administered. Before you can administer training sessions, check out the California sexual harassment training requirements to ensure you are complying completely with California state law. These training sessions need to thoroughly explain the illegal behaviours and explain the process of reporting unwelcome behaviour.
Training sessions should cover the behaviours that are illegal, and how to spot and report them when it happens. These behaviours should be covered thoroughly so all employees understand what constitutes sexual harassment. It is effective in these training sessions to role play through real life scenarios to help employees better understand these behaviours.
One-hour training sessions are required for all employees every two years. This training will focus on the behaviours and processes for reporting that behaviour. However, supervisors and management are required to participate in another hour of training to help managers handle harassment claims and enforce the company policies. The supervisor training should provide a clear path to follow if a complaint is made, and provide management with resources to investigate and instruct on what action should be taken.
These training sessions ensure that every employee at every level of the company knows what harassment is, and what to do in every situation. When companies don’t participate in sexual harassment training, employees are less likely to know what to do in the case of sexually harassing behaviour. This can lead to many issues within the workplace and with your employees.
Effects of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
The effects of sexual harassment are widespread and damaging to both the people involved and your company as a whole. Preventing harassment is the most effective way to handle sexual harassment issues. Once the behaviour has entered your company, you will be dealing with health issues, productivity issues, lack of loyalty, and loss of employees. Those effects, and possible legal action, can significantly hurt your company.
Are common among victims of sexual harassment. Anxiety, depression, and even post traumatic stress disorder have all been linked to harassment. These mental health effects can be long lasting. Studies have shown that these effects can trigger issues for years, especially if these events happen early in someone’s career.
Other health issues include high blood pressure, heart issues, diabetes, compromised immune systems, and headaches. These issues will create higher insurance costs, more sick days, and less satisfied employees. For more information about the health effects linked to sexual harassment check out this article.
Is directly affected when there are cases of sexual harassment within a company. Employees who have been victimized or witnessed harassment tend to disengage from their work. They have been found to struggle with motivation, anxiety, inability to concentrate, and higher levels of stress. Many employees are so focused on inappropriate behaviour, they tend to lose focus on their work.
Cases of sexual harassment have been linked to decreased employee productivity, not just in the individuals involved, but for the team as a whole. When workplace issues, such as sexual harassment, arise, the cohesiveness of the team suffers. Studies have found that productivity is affected by every employee within that team or workgroup.
Can arise when cases of sexual harassment are reported. In some cases, the company can be held liable if it has been found that they either knew about the harassment and did nothing, or they did not thoroughly train their employees to handle harassment cases.
Sexual harassment claims can significantly damage your employees, create an unproductive and unhealthy work environment, and lead to overwhelming lawsuits and legal fees. For more information of what sexual harassment is and how to prevent it, check out www.dfeh.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2020/03/SexualHarassmentFactSheet_ENG.pdf.