Sexual harassment is damaging to a workforce. It makes employees feel unsafe and even angry, which in turn makes them not want to show up and work hard for their company. Unfortunately, the construction industry has more than its fair share of sexual harassment.
According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, more than four in 10 female construction workers say they’ve seriously considered leaving the industry with harassment as the most common reason. And nearly a quarter of women surveyed say they always or frequently face sexual harassment. But beyond creating an unengaged, unproductive workforce, sexual harassment is against the law.
EEOC Harassment Laws
The EEOC, or US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, like sexual harassment. The EEOC has the authority to investigate charges of discrimination against employers who are covered by the law (those with at least 15 employees or 20 employees in age discrimination cases). If it finds discrimination has occurred, the EEOC will try to settle the charge via mediation or by taking legal action if necessary. The EEOC has recently filed several lawsuits against companies where they find sexual harassment has occurred and the penalties can be severe.
For example, last October, Focus Plumbing was ordered to pay $500,000 to settle a sexual harassment suit. The EEOC filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the Las Vegas, Nev. company claiming it subjected a class of monolingual Spanish-speaking female employees to a hostile work environment and quid pro quo sexual harassment that included unwanted touching, groping, sexual advances, sexually offensive comments and requests. The EEOC’s lawsuit further alleged that employees were threatened if they rejected the sexual advances while others were offered better work assignments and hours if they acquiesced to sexual acts.
Aside from paying the $500,000, Focus Plumbing must also provide specialized training on sexual harassment to human resources officers and managers to ensure they are aware of their obligations to prevent sexual harassment and how to address complaints. Not only is sexual harassment training a great idea, it might actually be required in your state.
States That Require Sexual Harassment Training
Sexual harassment training is important as its goal is to prevent harassment before it begins. Training your employees about unacceptable behavior can protect your construction company from EEOC lawsuits but also employee turnover and a bad reputation.
Because sexual harassment training is so important, it is required by certain states:including:
- District of Columbia
- New York
According to ForConstructionPros.com, the regulations in those six states mean that up to 25% of all construction workers in the nation are now covered by laws requiring sexual harassment training for workers.
Other states only require sexual harassment training for state employees or may not require it, but highly recommend it.
Start a Sexual Harassment Training Program
Sexual harassment training is your best chance of preventing sexual harassment and creating a safe, engaged workforce. The EEOC supports employers by providing training and technical assistance via its no-cost outreach and education programs that help them understand and prevent discrimination.
EEOC’s outreach programs provide general information about the EEOC, its mission, the employment discrimination laws enforced by EEOC and the charge/complaint process. EEOC representatives are available on a limited basis at no cost to make presentations and participate in meetings, conferences and seminars with employees and employer groups.
HR software, like a learning management system (LMS), can also help employers implement anti-discrimination training company-wide. A cloud-based LMS allows employees to complete training via any device at any time. It also allows admins to set and automate reminder notifications for employees to complete the training and require them to sign off on your anti-discrimination policy.
To help construction companies meet their sexual harassment training needs, Arcoro partners with Training ABC to offer access to professionally designed courses. Training ABC offers a full suite of workplace-related training that can be accessed and managed using our LMS system.
Arcoro’s LMS module also supports all third party compliance courses, including SCORM 1.2, SCORM 2004 (2nd, 3rd and 4th versions), AICC, xAPI/Tin Can and CMI5. Required compliance training can be set up for automatic renewal with reminder notifications. Our OSHA-authorized courses offered through our partner, ClickSafety, can help reduce job site accidents and injuries and keep your workplace fully compliant.
Contact us to learn more about how you can help prevent workplace sexual harassment with targeted training.