From the Firm of Scott Nathan
I am pleased to bring you my firm’s February 2012 Business Law Update.
Anti-Harassment Policies and Harassment Prevention Training — Don’t Just Pay Lip Service to Anti-Harassment Law – Stay out of Trouble – Follow these steps as a means to Avoiding Fines, Penalties and Judgments
A recent federal court opinion stresses that just going through the motions of posting policies and providing training is insufficient if the policies and training are inadequate or are never fully implemented (EEOC v. Management Hospitality of Racine, 2012 WL37112 (7th Cir. 2012). In other words, paying mere lip-service to Anti-Harassment requirements will not provide your company with protection. Even worse, it will subject your company to a wide range of preventable fines, penalties and lawsuits.
Here’s some suggestions for your company to implement to stay out of trouble.
1. POSTING: Post a current Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) poster containing information stressing the illegality of sexual harassment. It’s the law.
2. SEPARATE PAMPHLET: Also employers are required to distribute a separate pamphlet on sexual harassment to all employees. Note that neither the DFEH poster nor an anti-sexual harassment policy published in an employee handbook is enough to meet the separate pamphlet requirement. It is good practice to have the employee sign acknowledging receipt of the pamphlet. Place this signed acknowledgment in the employee’s work records.
3. IDENTIFY CLEAR COMPLAINT PROCEDURES, THE PERSON IN CHARGE OF RECEIVING AND DOCUMENTING COMPLAINTS AND HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE PERSON IDENTIFIED AS WELL: Implement a clear complaints system by which your employees can complain to an identified supervisor or manager, or an ‘alternative person’ if the person who receives complaints in your company is the alleged harasser. An anti-harassment policy should also inform employees that they can go to the DFEH or EEOC with their complaint.
4. TRAINING: Train all supervisors to understand what sexual harassment is and how to respond if a complaint is made. If a complaint is made to a supervisor or anyone in charge of overseeing other employees’ work activities, this is sufficient to place the employer on notice of the complaint. These supervisors/overseers need to understand how to handle a complaint. In California, employers with 50 or more employees must train their supervisors every two years; however, training of supervisors should be trained even if the company has fewer than 50 employees.
All the best,
Scott G. Nathan
Law Offices of Scott G. Nathan
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