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The Changing Landscape of Sexual Harassment Training

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Sexual Harassment Training

We live in a modern world that is quickly changing ideologies and where minorities aren’t afraid to speak up for themselves anymore. This development is new, and good, but comes with complications within the workplace for Sexual Harassment Training. Different beliefs work side by side, occasionally, and even unintentionally, clashing, leaving people feeling hurt, left behind, or attacked. 

This leaves employers with the responsibility to ensure all parties receive proper updated training for sexual harassment and make them aware of how it applies today. Complicated issues within the subject of workplace discrimination only become more difficult by the different regulations within each state. Sometimes, like in the case of New York State, the requirements change depending on the city. You can learn more here about the different regulations within New York City. It is essential to be aware of changing social environments and how they affect sexual harassment policies now and in the future. 

Factors that are changing the landscape of sexual harassment training are:

Heightened Awareness 

Despite the fact that sexual harassment has been an issue for nearly as long as societies have existed, there has been very little awareness. The age of media that we live in, dumps new stories and social issues in our laps at all hours of the day. With the #metoo movement, awareness has skyrocketed, bringing it to the forefront of everyone’s minds. People are beginning to ask why effective action has not been taken sooner to combat the issue, influencing new policies all over the nation. 

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State-Level Regulations

The demand for change begins with new state-level regulations. Employers must stay up today on all new policies, especially as the traditional definition of sexual harassment has begun to shift. It’s common knowledge that both men and women are victims of workplace harassment. It is less common knowledge that discrimination based on gender expression and identity is a rising issue. Some states, such as California, are requiring businesses to have updated policies that cover these issues. 

Federal-Level Regulations

Congress has begun changing things at the federal level, passing a law changing codes for the IRS. Fees and settlements from sexual harassment suits are no longer deductible business expenses. The idea was to force more transparency in claims and make them publicly accessible. Visit https://www.eeoc.gov/sexual-harassment to learn more about the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s stance on sexual harassment.

Gender Sensitivity

Gender identity and expression need to have better, clear policies within the workplace. It’s important that employers understand the difference between the two and adjust accordingly. Gender identity, no matter what they were assigned at birth, is the gender they identify as. Gender expression, on the other hand, is more related to appearance, especially the appearance they have in public. Dress codes and other company policies must be adjusted to be more neutral and better fit gender fluidity.

The Bathroom Debate

Gender-neutral bathrooms have been a controversial issue for quite some time now. As the workforce becomes less binary, the question is less of “should it be done” and more “how should it be done.” While this may not seem like a sexual harassment issue, creating a hostile work environment, based on gender is considered harassment more and more. Companies with single stall restrooms with locking doors might consider making them all-gender facilities. 

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Pronouns 

HIPAA’s anti-discrimination provision has some very clear regulations regarding pronouns in the workplace. This is another federal level change to policy, stating that if someone expresses which gender pronoun they wish to be addressed with, you must use it. Refusing to use the requested pronouns is considered creating a hostile work environment and sex-based harassment. 

help

Companies are charged with the responsibility of keeping their employees educated on the evolving topics and policies surrounding harassment. Regular training, even if not required, benefits the workforce to help them avoid the pitfalls in the changing social landscape. Adequate training goes beyond teaching employees the legal definition and puts clear emphasis on making a work environment where everyone is treated with respect.  

Affective training ensures that everyone is aware of their rights to a harassment free workplace and what behaviors are considered unacceptable. It teaches those who were unaware of their problematic actions and gives a clear outline of consequences for the offensive behaviors of those who won’t change their behavior.  

Every company should have the goal of making the workplace somewhere anyone can exist safely without fear of being singled out or discriminated against. This isn’t just an altruistic ideal, employees working in a hostile environment are less productive, affecting the bottom line. Legal action against a business due to a harassment complaint is also extremely expensive. Clear, firm communication that yours is a zero-tolerance workplace protects both your employees and your company. Regular and up to date training only serves to reinforce the point. It also keeps your business within the requirements of legal mandates, serving as protection against fines and other fees. 

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