EEOC: How is Your Anti-Harassment Training Going?

On June 20, 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released the findings and recommendations of its Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace. Unsurprisingly, since one third of the complaints filed in fiscal year 2015 included an allegation of harassment, it concluded that workplace harassment remains a persistent problem. The finding is likely to spur more aggressive handling of harassment claims by the Commission.1131-EEOC_SEAL_2

When did your dealership last train employees on discrimination and harassment? Training should be done on an ongoing basis.

Employee Training

There should be regular meetings (at least annually, preferably semi-annually) of all employees. The meetings should have a short portion in which the following subjects are covered:

  • The company’s policy against discrimination and harassment.
  • The importance of these policies to the dealership.
  • The need for employees to report behavior they feel violates the policies and procedures.  Nothing can be done for an employee until the matter is reported. The report should preferably be to the employee’s supervisor.  If the employee feels uncomfortable, then means to report the behavior to senior management should be provided.  Preferably the dealer should provide a number for a hotline or a line directly to the dealer so there is no mistake about the importance of reporting these matters. 

Manager Training

Manager training is equally important. 

  • The Importance of Action. Managers must understand that if they observe a problem or a complaint comes to their attention, they must immediately take action. All complaints of discrimination and harassment are important and must be properly handled.
  • Method of Response. Managers must be trained in the proper actions to take if they see a problem or if they learn of a problem. A manager must not brush off the alleged wrongful behavior.  However, the manager must understand the importance of remaining neutral and not overreacting.  “We know that Joe has a tendency to touch young women,” is never the appropriate response to a complaint about Joe. A manager must never jump to conclusions. A manager must remain neutral in the face of behavior that appears to be inappropriate, whether the manager sees it personally or receives a report of improper behavior. 
  • Investigation. A manager must be taught how to investigate if a charge of wrongful activity occurs. There are steps in investigating, and managers must know how to effectively investigate alleged violations of company policy.
  • Resolution. Managers must understand there must be a resolution to any investigation. Whether there is a decision that nothing improper occurred, or a decision that the offending employee must be terminated, there must be a conclusion. And the person who claimed to have been the subject of the wrongful behavior must be made aware of that resolution.