This sample outline of Massachusetts anti-discrimination training is offered by Kushner Sanders Ravinal LLP as a guide to give you an idea what’s covered in each session. Actual contents will vary and may include additional elements, including focused segments on particular areas of discrimination law, role play exercises, and brain storming sessions. In all cases, anti-discrimination training programs are specially tailored to meet client needs. Sessions are always interactive with participants free to ask questions and engage in discussions with the trainer throughout the program. Training plans and outlines are created only after a meeting and exchange of information between trainer and client. The courses are normally provided on a flat fee basis and can last anywhere from one to three hours, depending on company needs and desires. Courses are generally limited to a maximum of 25 attendees to ensure optimal learning. With larger work forces, multiple sessions may be necessary. Training for supervisory and non-supervisory employees is normally held separately so that the heightened duties of managers to identify and address discrimination issues can be emphasized. The course is taught by or under the supervision of Jack Merrill, a Massachusetts attorney who is certified by the Massachusetts Commissions Against Discrimination (MCAD) to provide it. It can be combined with a course on sexual harassment law so that related subjects are addressed comprehensively in a single session that normally lasts three hours.
The reasons for the program will be discussed. They include the value of learning the basics of discrimination law, including its different and complex elements. The need to understand what discrimination is in its various forms and to seek assistance when questionable or difficult situations arise will be emphasized, as will the costs involved when employers are forced to defend discrimination lawsuits.
II. WHAT YOU’LL LEARN
In this segment, attendees will get a summary of what they’ll learn in the course. This includes tools to help them understand discrimination and avoid/prevent it. The employer’s anti-discrimination policies will be the focal point of the training session.
III. GROUND RULES
Training ground rules will be discussed. Attendees will be instructed that actual work situations are off limits, as is any debate about the pros/cons of the law as it exists and applies to the workplace. Questions will always be entertained throughout the course, but the trainer will provide only generalized information about sexual harassment law and will not comment openly about individual harassment situations.
IV. WHAT IS EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION?
In this segment, employees and supervisors get an overview of discrimination laws in their various forms at state and federal levels. Issues such as race, gender, age and other types of discrimination are described generally, as is sexual harassment. The litany of laws that protect employees from discrimination will be reviewed. Special areas of focus can be included for discussion detail in this segment, including handicap and sex discrimination.
V. EMPLOYMENT AREAS COVERED BY LAW
Attendees will learn that discrimination laws have wide ranging applications. Claims can be brought based on employee terminations; failures to hire; the asking of improper interview questions; denials of promotions, salaries or benefits; and other common workplace events. Types of situations that might lead to trouble in various areas of the employer/employee relationship will be discussed. Examples of problem situations areas will be presented.
VI. PRIMARY AREAS OF CONCERN
The most common types of discrimination claims will be discussed. These typically include sexual harassment, gender discrimination, age claims, and handicap discrimination cases. The complexities of various types of discrimination will be discussed with an emphasis on learning how to identify red flags and resolve issues before they become legal problems.
VII. WHO IS LIABLE?
The issue who is liable for discrimination will be discussed in some detail. In most cases, this includes an employer and any individuals who are accused of acting improperly. The circumstances that could lead to individual liability will be discussed. These include cases where supervisors are directly and indirectly involved in events and those where actions may have unintended discriminatory consequences.
VIII. POTENTIAL FINANCIAL COSTS
Attendees will learn about the different types of damages that can be awarded in discrimination cases. These include damages for lost wages, pain and suffering, punishment of wrongdoers, and legal fees. Circumstances that could lead to court or MCAD orders that anti-discrimination training take place will be discussed.
IX. EMPLOYER’S DUTY TO PREVENT DISCRIMINATION
What must an employer do to prevent discrimination and avoid lawsuits? We’ll discuss how to promote a non-discriminatory atmosphere, apply company policies and, for management employees, how to report or investigate complaints and take effective remedial action when necessary. We’ll also discuss the importance of paying attention to employee conduct, addressing issues promptly when they arise, and setting a good example for fellow employees and staff members.
X. RESPONDING TO A COMPLAINT
In this segment, we’ll discuss how to respond to employee concerns reasonably, seriously and promptly. Employees and managers will each be instructed on their duties to report misconduct that may occur in their presence or about which they may otherwise learn. Proper and improper responses of managers will be discussed. Dealing with and following up on complaints will also be covered.
XI. DISCRIMINATION INVESTIGATIONS
This segment will differ based on audience. Employees will be instructed how the company handles complaints, including investigations, record keeping, discipline and follow up. Managers will discuss the process in more detail and will be instructed how to document and evaluate various situations.
XII. CORRECTIVE ACTIONS
The importance of correcting improper behaviors and the range of potential disciplinary actions will be covered. Attendees will be instructed to never allow a questionable situation to continue. How disciplinary options are evaluated and applied will be discussed.
By Attorney Jack K. Merrill – Needham, MA Employment Lawyer
Attorney Jack K. Merrill is a Massachusetts employment lawyer and specializes in employment law and civil litigation. He counsels small businesses and individuals on discrimination cases and other employment related legal matters.