A playful joke or a well-meaning hug. As a California employer you may not realize that, while seemingly innocent, either may amount to sexual harassment if the joke is offensive or the hugging is pervasive. In any workplace, if anyone feels uncomfortable, cornered, afraid, or diminished, it may mean they’ve been sexually harassed. It’s those gray areas of even unintentional behavior that can create problems. Your company could be liable.
Exactly what was said, how it was said, when and where it was said, does not change a person’s experience. Or the fact someone files a harassment claim without notifying you first.
California makes itself very clear. It mandates harassment prevention training for supervisors (2 hours) and nonsupervisory employees (1 hour) for any California company with 5 or more employees.
The California Fair Employment Act (FEHA) highlights an employer’s affirmative duty to take reasonable steps to prevent and promptly correct harassing, discriminatory and retaliatory conduct in the workplace.
Since harassment is a major source of litigation in California, CalChamber recommends that employers with fewer than 5 employees also educate and train every employee. Just ask any employer blindsided by a workplace harassment lawsuit. The financial costs are enormous, not to mention the potentially irreversible damage to a company's reputation, employee morale and bottom line.
Consider these statistics from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Civil Rights Department (CRD), formerly known as the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH):
- In fiscal year 2017, 6,696 sexual harassment charges were filed with the EEOC, with about 16.5 percent filed by men.
- The EEOC recovered nearly $70 million for sexual harassment victims through litigation and administrative enforcement in fiscal year 2018, up from $47.5 million in fiscal year 2017.
- During the calendar year of 2017, a total of 3,698 sexual harassment cases were filed with the California DFEH, totaling 7 percent of all cases filed.
Avoid costly lawsuits and maintain a productive workplace. That's why it's so important to purchase harassment prevention training that’s current and meets California's compliance requirements.
Reinforce your company’s zero-tolerance policy. CalChamber's online, interactive harassment prevention training courses use compelling and memorable content that reflects harassment scenarios based on relevant and realistic workplace situations.