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Organizational Effectiveness Group, LLC

 

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Sexual Harassment & Anti-Bullying Training - Meets California State Law Requirements

 
   
 

"OEG’s Diana Peterson-More has conducted state-of-the-art, interactive sexual harassment training for years. As with all of the training OEG conducts, the goal is to leave the participants with the skills to maneuver their way through the murky waters of workplace issues, rather than to present a sure-to-be-incomplete list of "do’s and don’ts." In short, Peterson-More’s goal is to teach participants how to fish rather than to give them the fish.

It is rare that mandatory education on a topic such as sexual harassment will generate rave reviews from participants on the value of the information and the skills of the instructor. Diana Peterson-More’s Sexual Harassment and Other Anti-Bias Training continually receives high praise from our employees as being comprehensive, highly informative and very interesting. Diana is an expert and is able to present a complex subject in a meaningful way, replacing fear of the unknown with informed appreciation of all the issues involved."

— Kelsey Kenfield, SVP of Operations and Human Resources, Kneedler Fauchere, a national furniture, wallcovering and interior design company

"Diana Peterson-More definitely has a flair for enlightening employees on required awareness regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. Our staff left her class knowing exactly the boundaries of proper behavior towards their co-workers."

— Alan Barasorda, Director of Finance, Pasadena Senior Center

Just because it’s required by California State law (see below) it doesn’t mean that sexual harassment and anti-bullying training has to be confined to a list of "do’s and don’ts" or to two hours of one-on-one in front of a computer screen.  Further, it doesn’t have to include a videotape of clearly inappropriate—and laughable—workplace behaviors, or to ask volunteers to stand up and role play embarrassing situations.

Does this sound familiar?  These and other tried (and tired) methods are what many who take OEG’s two-hour interactive, informative and entertaining sexual harassment and anti-bullying training say they have "sat through" before.

A Proven Track Record
OEG has conducted state-of-the-art, interactive sexual harassment and anti-bullying training for years.  As with all of the training OEG conducts, the goal is to leave the participants with the skills to maneuver their way through the murky waters of workplace issues, rather than to present a sure-to-be-incomplete list of "do’s and don’ts." In short, our goal is to teach participants how to fish rather than to give them the fish.

The Process and Outcomes
Following the infamous quote of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart "I know it, when I see it," (made in reference to pornography), We begin each session by calling on the group to discuss what they think sexual harassment is; since 2015, this training also incorporates anti-bullying.  Similarly, we ask the participants to define what they believe bullying is.  After the participants compile a wide-ranging list of actions and behaviors, often with guidance from OEG’s questions, the group develops a working definition of sexual harassment in the workplace, and bullying in the workplace.

We then move the discussion into a "sexual harassment timeline and anti-bullying timeline," a timetable that highlights significant events in the development of sexual harassment, which is largely what as known as court-made law, and bullying which is recent enough, to engage the group in educated speculation as to how the administrative agencies and courts will define workplace bullying.  After that, it’s on to a series of case studies, all of which have happened (either as a lawsuit or a matter that we have participated in as an expert consultant or expert trial witness).  The focus is always on the gray areas, be it harassment or retaliation.

During the case studies, participants are called upon to "make the case" as the so-called victim or the so-called perpetrator, then all of them cast a vote on the matter as if they were on a jury. The important learning is two-fold:  first, how surprised participants are at the differing views within the so-called Jury; and second, that the outcome of each situation is dependent upon the participants’ ability to argue the case at hand: to serve as the Trier-of-fact.

Last, OEG reviews the policies and procedures of the organization, presents state-of-the-art policies and procedures, answers questions and reminds the audience to pass along the learning to their applicable staffs, and the persons to whom they should discuss any concerns they have about sexual harassment in the workplace.  (Note:  OEG's Peterson-More serves as an outside neutral expert to whom employees may report suspected violations, without fear of reprisal from within the organization and/or the individual about whom the employee has raised concerns.)

Sexual Harassment - What California Law Requires
AB 1825, which became law on January 1, 2005, requires employers with 50 or more employees or contractors -- regardless of location -- to provide two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to California supervisors every two years.  New supervisors must be trained within six months of hire or being promoted to a supervisory position.

The training must be interactive, and through a combination of training and experience as detailed in the final regulations, trainers must have the ability to train supervisors on a host of vital issues, as follows:

  • what constitutes unlawful harassment, discrimination and retaliation under both California and federal law

  • the steps to take when harassing behavior occurs in the workplace

  • how to report harassment complaints

  • how to respond to a harassment complaint

  • the employer’s obligation to conduct a workplace investigation of a harassment complaint

  • what constitutes retaliation and how to prevent it

  • the essential components of an anti-harassment policy

  • the effect of harassment on harassed employees, co-workers, harassers and employers

  • how to create an anti-bullying environment in the workplace

Anti-Bullying - What California Law Requires
Effective January 1, 2015, AB 2053 required that covered employers (those with 50 or more employees) to include "prevention of abusive conduct as a component of the [sexual harassment] training and education..."  The law defines "abusive conduct" as:

"...conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer's legitimate business interests.  [It] may include repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person's work performance."

The  law adds that a "single act shall not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe or egregious."  Further, the law includes the word "Malice" in the definition of "abusive conduct."  Last, the law includes both supervisors and fellow employees.

OEG believes that the broad language of this law contains ambiguity and leaves room for interpretation.  In both common law and in the context of punitive damages, "malice" is defined as conduct which is "intended by the defendant (perpetrator) to cause injury to the plaintiff (so-called victim) or despicable conduct which is carried on by the perpetrator with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others."  Thus, we advise that one should refrain from acting impulsively in difficult workplace situations, especially when supervisors experience heightened emotions.  We recommend that one should practice the "15-second pause rule" in order to "cool one's jets."

Also see this informative article titled "Taking a Crack at Calif.'s Workplace Anti-Bullying Law."

 
   

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