This sample outline of Massachusetts sexual harassment 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 role play exercises, video reviews, and brain storming sessions. Sessions are always highly interactive with participants free to ask questions and engage in discussions with the trainer through the program. In all cases, sexual harassment training programs are specially tailored to meet client needs. 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, it is normally suggested that multiple sessions be conducted. Training for supervisory and non-supervisory employees is normally held separately so that the heightened duties of managers to identify and address sexual issues at work 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 anti-discrimination 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 need to learn the basics of sexual harassment, understand how to recognize and deal with potential problems, and help employers avoid costly and time-consuming sexual harassment lawsuits. The employer’s sexual harassment policy will form the foundation for the training. It will be reviewed in detail during the course.
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 identify sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviors at work; strategies for dealing with situations effectively as they arise; and ways to prevent discrimination. The employer’s sexual harassment policy will be a focal point of the training session and form the basis for company expectations about employee and supervisor behavior.
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 SEXUAL HARASSMENT?
In this segment, attendees will learn how the law defines sexual harassment. The two types of harassment – quid pro quo and hostile environment sexual harassment – will be described and discussed. Potential victims and perpetrators will be defined.
V. FREQUENCY OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT
The large and increasing numbers of sexual harassment and related gender discrimination lawsuits will be discussed. Attendees will get the most recent statistics, including data about the millions of dollars in damages employers pay to former employees in sexual harassment cases every year. Real-life cases may be discussed to give participants a better understanding how sexual issues play out in the workplace.
VI. THE PERCEPTION OF HARASSMENT
Attendees will learn that a key issue in sexual harassment cases is the perception of varying parties. The will come to understand that conduct one person may think is humorous is in fact offensive to another person, who may smile through an incident rather than making waves, but could later file a lawsuit. The class will then read written descriptions of various scenarios of workplace conduct and decide whether the conduct is offensive or not. The varying reactions of attendees will be discussed. In some classes, a short video of questionable conduct will be shown and the issues it raises will be discussed.
VII. WHY IS HARASSMENT WRONG?
In this segment, attendees will learn what state and federal laws say about sexual harassment. They’ll also learn about how it reduces productivity, undermines business success, distracts employees and managers, and is offensive to victims.
VIII. RESPONDING TO A COMPLAINT
In this segment, we’ll discuss how to respond to sexual issues 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.
IX. 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.
X. 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.