As the #MeToo movement has grown over the past two years, and claims against powerful individuals continue to surface in the media and on social media, employers and companies need to adjust their response polices as one thing is clear: sexual claims are very real, very expensive, and very destructive.
The following cases are real-world examples of how sexual harassment claims can cost employers in terms of time, money, and employee morale, and can cause pain and distress to employees.
A recent claim against the popular P.F. Chang’s China Bistro chain cost the company $1 million in response to two employees claims that they were repeatedly sexually harassed and were subjected to a hostile work environment.
Two female employees at a California winery were subject to repeated sexual harassment by the winery’s general manager and then subsequently retaliated against by the company. A Los Angeles jury awarded $11 million dollars to the two women. Each woman received $1 million for past emotional distress; $1.5 million for future emotional distress and $3 million in punitive damages. In addition to the $11 million dollars to the women, their attorneys will also receive their attorney’s fees.
Ford announced it would pay up to $10.1 million to settle a racial- and sexual-harassment investigation at two Chicago plants.
In 2016, 12,860 sexual harassment charges were filed with the EEOC, and of the 23,510 total cases that were filed with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) in 2016, 17% were harassment or gender-based. However, many more instances go unreported.
In the intervening years, these cases have continued to surface and the social movement around them has gained momentum. In response, more and more states have implemented either mandatory sexual harassment prevention laws, or added recommended training protocols to their state codes as a means of encouraging employers to protect themselves against these costly lawsuits.
As of June 25, 2019, nearly half of all US states have various training requirements. Seven states require training for all employers of a certain size, fourteen states require training for public sector employers, and nine states have training recommendations in their state codes.
As of June 25, 2019, the following states have training requirements: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, NJ, NY, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. The following states recommend, but don’t require training: Idaho, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Find out where your offices fall on the spectrum of the state-specific codes and laws below:StateTraining RequiredEffective DateFrequencyAlabamaNoneAlaskaNoneArizonaNoneArkansasNoneCalifornia All Employers with 5+ employeesJanuary 1, 2019– Initial training by January 1, 2020 or within 6 months of hiring – Every two years after the initial training See our blog for more training requirements and recommendations.ColoradoNoneConnecticutAll Employers with 3+ employeesOctober 1, 2019– Initial training by October 1, 2020 or within 6 months of hiringDelaware All Employers with 50+ employeesJanuary 1, 2019– Initial training by January 1, 2020 or within 1 year of hiring – Every two years after the initial trainingDistrict of ColumbiaTipped employees and DC government employeesJuly 1, 2019* Pending Congressional budget approval– Initial training within two years of enactment or within 90 days of hiring – Every two years after the initial trainingFlorida NoneGeorgia NoneHawaiiAll EmployersIdahoRecommended; not requiredIllinoisPublic employersMust be a component of new employee training programsIndianaNoneIowaNoneKansasPublic employersAll employees need to complete the online harassment training programKentuckyPublic employersEvery two yearsLouisianaPublic employersJanuary 1, 2019Every yearMaineAll Employers with 15+ employeesWithin 1 year of hiringMarylandNoneMassachusettsAll EmployersWithin 1 year of hiringMichiganNoneMinnesotaNoneMississippiPublic employersAll employees need to complete the online harassment training programMissouriNoneMontanaNoneNebraskaRecommended; not requiredNevadaPublic employers– Initial training within 6 months of hiring – Every two years after the initial trainingNew HampshireNoneNew JerseyPublic employersAll employees need to complete the state harassment training programNew MexicoNoneNew YorkAll Employers As of 10/09/18, all private and public employers in the State of New York are required to conduct annual anti-harassment training for all employees and distribute a written anti-harassment policy. The training must be interactive.October 9, 2019– Initial training by October 9, 2019 – Every year thereafterNorth CarolinaPublic employersNorth DakotaNoneOhioRecommended; not requiredOklahomaNoneOregonRecommended; not requiredPennsylvaniaPublic employersAll public employees of the government of Pennsylvania employees need to complete the online harassment training programRhode IslandRecommended; not requiredSouth CarolinaNoneSouth DakotaRecommended; not requiredTennesseePublic employersAll employees need to complete the state harassment training programTexas All state employees must receive employment discrimination training, which includes sexual harassment issues, within 30 days of the start of employment. Training must be repeated every two years thereafter.– Initial training within 30 days of hiring – Every two years after the initial trainingUtahPublic employers– Initial training upon hiring – Every two years after the initial trainingVermontRecommended; not requiredVirginiaPublic employersJanuary 1, 2019All employees need to complete the online harassment training program once every two yearsWashingtonPublic employersWest VirginiaRecommended; not requiredWisconsinRecommended; not requiredWyomingNone
Check with legal counsel in your state about scheduling harassment prevention training, ensuring that your company complies with posting requirements, and developing and distributing an anti-harassment policy to employees.
The Grady Firm, P.C. attorneys specialize in helping businesses grow and succeed through employment, business, and immigration law advising for clients. The Grady Firm attorneys provide the following employment law services:
On-site, classroom-style Sexual Harassment training for employees and supervisors;
“Experiential” supervisor training in which managerial employees practice processing a harassment complaint and commencing an investigation in pairs with other trainees. Draft and review Employee Handbooks, arbitration agreements, and Anti-Harassment policies;
Conduct employee personnel file audits;
Create accounts and assist with E-Verify monitoring;
Assist with the employee on-boarding, discipline, and termination process;
Advise as to medical leave policies and implementation; and
Defend employer when they are sued by current or former employees.
To learn more about ensuring your business is compliant with state and local laws, schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s attorneys; call +1 (323) 450-9010; or fill out a Contact Request Form. The Grady Firm has offices in Beverly Hills, Irvine, and San Diego, California.
*Jennifer A. Grady, Esq. is licensed to practice employment law in California.
This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney.
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