The #MeToo movement has rocked the entertainment industry with multiple claims of sexual harassment dating back decades. It even affects small business owners in Pennsylvania and across the country by making workers feel more comfortable bringing these claims out in the open.
Sexual harassment training is the first step in establishing a solid company policy regarding sexual harassment. All employees, including owners and managers, should participate in sexual harassment training.
It may be a good idea to hold separate training sessions for owners and managers apart from front-line employees. This is because the training could unearth a problem in your organization, and you want to make sure that your subordinates have a safe space to ask questions of the trainer teaching the class.
Although federal law only applies to businesses with 15 or more employees, businesses of any size are still vulnerable to lawsuits, so treating sexual harassment training as if it’s a requirement is a good idea. State statutes governing sexual harassment training vary, and in the state of Pennsylvania, only state employees are required to take such training.
Check with the State Department of Labor for recommendations regarding sexual harassment training. Be aware that your vendors are subject to scrutiny as well, and realize that you are liable for their behavior while they are on your property. Even something like a pinup poster hung in a restroom or break room could trigger a complaint. Saucy jokes can also be a problem. Not everyone shares the same sense of humor, so make sure your employees understand that risqué jokes or remarks are not acceptable in your place of business.
In addition to mandatory training for all employees, be sure to have a written sexual harassment policy as well. After the training session, have employees sign a copy of the policy, acknowledging that they have had the training, understand its content and agree to comply with your written policy.
Employer liability prevention has become even more critical as workers have begun to bring more sexual harassment claims. Make sure that you have the correct training, policies and procedures in place to protect your small business.