Is Your Organization Prepared for the New US Anti-Harassment Regulations?

June 26, 2019 | Reskill Your Workforce | 3 min read

This year several states enacted new harassment training requirements that leave employers wondering, “What do I need to do before the training deadline arrives?” With potential changes on the horizon as a variety of cases go before the U.S. Supreme Court next term, organizations must understand how to respond to these new requirements and update their compliance training programs accordingly.

In Skillsoft’s recent compliance webinar, “Latest Developments in U.S. Harassment Law: Federal and State,” Wendy Fischman, Esq., Partner at Potomac Law Group, PLLC, advised how employers can create a strategy for managing a harassment prevention program over multiple jurisdictions and ways to remain aware of future changes at the state and federal level.

Harassment and discrimination in the workplace

Two common workplace compliance issues are harassment and discrimination. The recently enacted training laws in California, Delaware, New York, and New York City are designed to combat these issues within the workplace and help create a harassment-free work environment.

“California, Delaware, NY, and NYC are not the only jurisdictions that have mandatory training requirements. They are just the jurisdictions that recently have either enacted training laws for the first time or, in the case of California, recently expanded its existing requirements,” explained Ms. Fischman.

Preparing for increased legislation

The trend towards increased anti-harassment legislation and enforcement appears unavoidable. Efforts to improve workplace culture play a critical role when creating a respectful workplace, preventing harassment and discrimination, and mitigating the risk of non-compliance.

Ms. Fischman offered several suggestions to help improve workplace culture and create an anti-harassment training program that supports organizational values and initiatives.

Some top tips discussed include:

  • Focus on building an inclusive, respectful workplace culture
  • Prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion in hiring and staffing decisions
  • Ensure that your organization’s anti-harassment and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policies are up-to-date and reflect the laws in all states in which you have employees (including remote employees)
  • Train employees and supervisors on applicable law and your policies
  • React promptly and effectively to complaints, but also to general feedback

Insights from the webinar

Ms. Fischman shared additional insights into the recent U.S. harassment laws during a live Q&A session, following the webinar.

Here are a few examples:

Question: Do all supervisors and employees in the State of California have to be trained in 2019?

Wendy: Yes. Even if the person was trained on the last day of 2018, they still must be trained in 2019 even though there is supposed to be a two-year training cycle.

Question: Can you please elaborate on California’s Abusive Conduct Training Requirements? Do you see this expanding into other states?

Wendy: I think we are going to see that. There is a major push for laws in general that prohibit bullying in the workplace. There are focus groups and policy advocates who are really pushing for this, and we are seeing more of those laws popping up. We haven’t seen anti-bullying or anti-abusive conduct training being required anywhere else yet, but I do think that is a trend we may see on the horizon.

Skillsoft Compliance solutions

Creating a respectful, inclusive workplace begins with setting expectations on acceptable and unacceptable behaviors at work. Employees must understand not only how to recognize harassment and discrimination in all its forms, but also their role in its prevention.

Skillsoft offers workplace harassment prevention and sexual harassment prevention training courses for California, Delaware, Connecticut, Maine, New York State, and New York City to help organizations educate their employees on their responsibility in complying with these new U.S. regulations.

Donna Jo Cassidy is an events specialist at Skillsoft.