SB 1300 and SB 1343: What California Employers Need to Know

SB 1300 and SB 1343 #metoo movement sign
SB 1300 and SB 1343 were passed in response to high-profile allegations of sexual harassment.

Out of the 1,217 bills that passed across Governor Jerry Brown’s desk, he signed 1,016 and vetoed 201.

Two of the bills signed will dramatically alter the relationship between employers and employees in regards to sexual harassment complaints and legal action taken in the wake of an employee harassment complaint.

These bills are SB 1300 and SB 1343, and they were pushed and promptly passed in large part due to the #metoo movement.

They both expand mandated harassment training and SB 1300 in particular, expands the definition of sexual harassment and offers new legal protections for employees who are harassed, similar to what California SB 396 attempted to accomplish, but taking it one step further.

We’ll go over each of these bills in detail so you know what training you need to provide to staff and what the changes to the legal code mean for your relationships with your employees.

To start, let’s briefly cover SB 1343 since that’s the most straightforward of the two.

What is SB 1343?

SB 1343 only applies to businesses who employ 5 or more people.

There already exists a 2-hour sexual harassment training requirement for managers and supervisors, but SB 1343 mandates an additional training requirement for non-managers, including temporary or seasonal workers.

Both the 2-hour training and 1-hour training must be provided to staff by January 1, 2020. Every 2 years, you need to provide 1-hour of this training to all staff again.

If you hire employees after January 1, 2020, they must take the 1-hour sexual harassment training within 6 months of working on the job.

What is SB 1300

SB 1300 is a sweeping harassment bill that applies to all California employers regardless of how many employees they have or how large or small the business is.

We’ll do our best to cover all the major points here.

First off, employers are no longer allowed to offer the following in exchange for a raise, bonus, or as a condition of employment or continued employment:

  • Require an employee to sign a release that basically says they’re not allowed to possess a claim or injury against an employer or other entity, such as a civil action, or notify governmental entities such as law enforcement.
  • Require an employee to sign a non-disparagement agreement or something similar that denies the employee’s right to expose unlawful acts in the workplace, such as sexual harassment or otherwise.

Here are the other major points you need to know:

  • Employers may be responsible for the acts of nonemployees harassing employees and other nonemployees such as interns, volunteers, and service contractors.
  • A single incident of harassment is enough to bring the case to trial and raise the issue of a hostile work environment if the harasser’s behavior has unreasonably interfered with the plaintiff’s work environment.
  • No workplace will be held to a different standard regarding sexual harassment than any other workplace.
  • Defendants in harassment cases are prohibited from being awarded attorney’s fees and costs unless the court determines that the action brought against the defendant was frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless or that the plaintiff continued to litigate after it clearly became so.

SB 1300 Bystander Training

SB 1300 takes their training a step further and authorizes employers to provide employees with bystander intervention training, which includes:

  • Information and practical guidance for bystanders to recognize harassment when it occurs.
  • The skills, confidence, and motivation to intervene in a problematic situation.
  • And resources to use if they do intervene.

What Judicial Decisions Does SB 1300 Affirm?

SB 1300 took a look at existing judicial decisions and aligned with those it favored and departed from those it rejects.

Here are the cases it approves of and used as a basis for this new legislation:

  • Harris v. Forklift Systems. In this case, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated plainly that “the plaintiff need not prove that his or her tangible productivity has declined as a result of the harassment. It suffices to prove that a reasonable person subjected to the discriminatory conduct would find, as the plaintiff did, that the harassment so altered working conditions as to make it more difficult to do the job.”
  • Reid v. Google, Inc. In this case, the California Supreme Court rejected the “stray remarks doctrine,” because the “existence of a hostile work environment depends on the totality of the circumstances and a discriminatory remark, even if made not directly in the context of an employment decision or uttered by a nondecisionmaker, may be relevant, circumstantial evidence of discrimination.”
  • Nazir v. United Airlines, Inc. In this case, it was observed that “hostile working environment cases involve issues ‘not determinable on paper.’”

How Can You Prepare for SB 1300 and SB 1343?

Well, you’re going to need to provide extensive harassment training to your employees, managers, and supervisors.

Which means you need an easy way to access this information. You also want to make it as simple as possible for your employees to take this training.

We can help make this happen.

We have a full library of courses, ebooks, and videos that meet harassment training guidelines, such as:

  • Sexual Harassment Prevention for Employees
  • Smart Workplaces: Sexual Harassment Prevention for Field Managers & Supervisors California AB 1825 and all 50 States
  • Harassment Prevention for Managers – State and Local Government Sector Edition

The best part is, they’re all available immediately after signing up. To claim your free trial of Enterprise Training, simply click the button below.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

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11 Major Issues Women in Trades Face and How to Solve Them

Women in trades cutting sheet metal
In a male-dominated workplace, women in trades face extra hazards that men don’t.

Most of the trades, like carpentry or cement masonry, are extremely dangerous to the average worker.

Some cities are even taking steps to ramp up their safety procedures, like New York City with Local Law 196.

But women in trades are especially vulnerable for a number of reasons and we need to be aware of these risks in order to mitigate them and provide a suitable work environment for women and men alike.

In this post, we’ll dive into the major problems women in trades often face and look at a few ways to solve these pressing issues.

Health and Safety Risks for Women in Trades (Based on SHEWT Research)

SHEWT was the study that broke open the door and shone a light on the issues women face in trades like construction.

It stands for Safety and Health Empowerment for Women in Trades.

According to their website, SHEWT was:

“A collaboration between the University of Washington Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences and community partners Washington Women in Trades, the Washington State Labor Education and Research Center, the University of Oregon Labor Education and Research Center, and the Washington State Building Trades Council’s Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Education (PACE) program.”

The purpose of SHEWT was two-fold:

  • Expose the harms and dangers that women in particular face in the trades.
  • And promote understanding of these unique risks in order to reduce them and replace them with better health and safety standards.

It should be obvious to anyone that construction workers face many dangers while on the job, such as slips and falls, contaminants, and potentially harmful machinery.

But what’s not obvious are the dangers women face in these male-dominated workplaces, such as stress resulting from harassment or discrimination, protective gear that wasn’t designed for the female physique, and even unclean facilities.

Here are the top problems women in trades face according to surveys conducted by SHEWT:

  1. Sexist stereotypes
  2. Physical limitations
  3. Discrimination
  4. Harassment
  5. Under-representation
  6. Having to prove selves
  7. No respect
  8. Poor work/life balance
  9. Poor training Inadequate
  10. Inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and tools
  11. Women who set a bad example for everyone else

Now let’s take a look at the actual results of SHEWT.

Statistical Results of SHEWT

SHEWT surveyed almost 300 male and female workers, asking them questions regarding health and safety hazards in their respective workplaces.

The demographics were:

  • 68% women
  • 32% men
  • 43% were in an apprenticeship
  • 57% were on the journey level

And the majority of trades represented in the study were laborers, electricians, pipe trades, and carpenters.

Here are the results of SHEWT:

  • Women reported higher levels of perceived stress compared to men.
  • Over half of women surveyed said they pushed themselves past their physical comfort level at least half of the time in order to complete their work.
  • Almost half of women felt discriminated against at work due to their gender.
  • Women were more likely than men to report at least one injury at work in the past year.
  • Women were less likely to report their injuries because they were afraid of being laid off.
  • Women were more likely than men to report PPE not fitting properly.

Solutions to Hazards for Women in Trades

According to the women in trades surveyed, these are the solutions they see for the hazards they face:

  • More women
  • Education
  • Improved training
  • Treat women and men equal
  • Mentoring

Hannah Curtis, one of the lead researchers of SHEWT, was recently interviewed and largely agreed with the solutions these women laid forward.

Here’s what Hannah had to say about getting more women into trades:

“If you can get more women into the trades, if you can get more women into leadership positions especially, you can create more of a demand for PPE, you can make men more comfortable working with women, you can change the training so it’s more friendly for women’s ergonomics, just change the culture so it’s more supportive of women in general.”

On the topic of leadership, Hannah said:

“Having supervisors involved is really essential, especially having them set the tone in terms of anti-harassment. Making that a priority, and having it trickle down.”

And in regards to mentoring, Hannah said:

“I think [mentoring] is just such a wonderful way to help women deal with the stress resulting from the workplace stressors that they are experiencing. It can also be a form of prevention. If you give women the skills they need to navigate that culture, to work safely, to advocate for their safety on the job, you’re going to prevent them from getting into situations where things become overwhelming and they want to leave the industry.”

Next Steps for Improving Conditions for Women in Trades

It’s up to all of us to help women feel more comfortable in the workplace, get along well with their male counterparts, and get access to equipment that works with their physique.

You can’t do it all, but as a start, you can help educate yourself and your employees on these issues.

And we can help you do it.

We can give you access to guides and courses such as:

  • Developing Women Leaders: A Guide for Men and Women in Organizations
  • Career and Family Challenges for Women Leaders
  • The Gender Communication Handbook: Conquering Conversational Collisions between Men and Women

If you want access to these and many more resources, get your free trial of Enterprise Training below.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

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Do These 9 Things to Resolve an Employee Harassment Complaint

 

An employee harassment complaint can be resolved quickly if you take the right actions.
An employee harassment complaint can be resolved quickly if you take the right actions.

An employee harassment complaint is one of the most difficult issues you as a manager must know how to resolve.

One of your primary duties as a manager is to provide a safe work environment for your employees, which means reducing and eliminating all forms of harassment.

As the video below points out, “It’s your job as a manager to know what to do when an employee reports a harassment claim.”

In this post, we’ll help you understand exactly what you need to do to resolve an employee harassment complaint.

First, go ahead and watch the video below for a few quick tips.

Then, continue reading because we’ll give you the precise legal definition for harassment and show you how to handle an employee harassment complaint tactfully and effectively and how to prevent it altogether.

What is a Legally Legitimate Employee Harassment Complaint?

When it comes to harassment at work, you should know the precise legal definition for harassment so that you know what it is when it happens.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Harassment is:

“Unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.”

But that’s not what makes harassment illegal. Petty slights, annoyances, or mild isolated incidents aren’t illegal. What makes harassment illegal or unlawful is when:

“Enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.”

Here’s a list of offensive conduct that could create an intimidating, hostile, or abusive workplace:

  • Offensive jokes
  • Slurs
  • Epithets or name calling
  • Physical assaults or threats
  • Intimidation
  • Ridicule or mockery
  • Insults or put-downs
  • Offensive objects or pictures
  • Interference with work performance

If you receive an employee harassment complaint that meets these requirements, there are specific actions you should take immediately that we outline below.

How Should Managers Handle Employee Harassment Complaints?

When dealing with employee harassment complaints, you should aim to be methodical and detailed to avoid any legal repercussions and so you can effectively resolve the conflict and achieve justice for the potential victim(s).

With that in mind, here some of the things you need to do after receiving an employee harassment complaint:

Take the Complaint Seriously but Impartially

You should accept an employee harassment complaint as potentially true without passing judgment on whether it is true or not.

Your job is to assist in finding the truth, which means you have to remain objective until the investigation into the complaint has been concluded and sufficient evidence has been collected that proves or disproves the harassment complaint.

Treat the Person Who Reported the Complaint with Respect

As the video in our intro pointed out, “It’s not easy for an employee to come forward about harassment. It’s embarrassing and demeaning.”

Your job as a manager in this situation is to treat the complainant with respect and kindness. You should exhibit honest empathy and offer genuine comfort.

Delivering a harassment complaint and enduring the ensuing investigation into the complaint can leave an employee feeling vulnerable and afraid, which can lead to poor performance at work.

Ensure that the complainant feels comfortable with you, and do whatever you can to make them feel as comfortable as possible while at work.

Always Investigate the Complaint

If an employee harassment complaint matches the guidelines set forth by the EEOC then it must be investigated – even if the complainant insists on not pursuing an investigation, or the complaint was delivered to you informally.

If you don’t investigate the complaint, you could face legal repercussions if more complaints are filed later and law enforcement discovers you didn’t investigate the situation after the first complaint.

Even worse, you could allow a bully or predator to continue harassing more employees when you had a chance to stop him or her.

Keep The Harassment Complaint as Confidential as Possible

An employee harassment complaint can quickly polarize your office. Some workers will side with the complainant while others will side with the accused – creating unnecessary tension, conflict, and gossip.

Worse yet, if details regarding the complaint are leaked, damaging the reputation of the complainant or accused, you could be sued for defamation and liable for damages.

Follow Established Procedures

If your office has a handbook, it likely has procedures for handling a harassment complaint. It’s best to follow those procedures exactly as they’re laid out to avoid mistreating the complainant and to avoid taking illegal or negligent actions during an investigation.

If you don’t have a handbook that deals specifically with employee harassment, then consider creating one.

Never Investigate a Harassment Complaint on Your Own

You should never investigate an employee harassment complaint on your own. The first thing you should do after listening to an employee harassment complaint is to contact HR.

All investigations and proceedings should be led by an HR professional, an internal affairs officer, an outside manager trained in conducting internal investigations, or a law enforcement official.

Write Everything Down

It’s critical that you record every interaction with the complainant and accused harasser, along with anyone else you interview or interact with as part of the harassment investigation. Include dates, names, and documents in your notes.

Keeping a meticulous journal of the proceedings will protect you in case a complainant accuses you of malfeasance in an investigation, retaliation after an investigation, or that you ignored a complaint and never conducted an investigation at all.

Take Appropriate Action Against the Harasser

After you conclude the investigation with the help of HR and anyone else, decide if the accused harasser is guilty. If he is guilty, then discipline him accordingly.

You may need to terminate him if his actions were especially dangerous or egregious, such as stalking or threatening the complainant.

If the harasser wasn’t violent, but was mean or ignorant, as in the case of excessive office pranks or insensitive jokes, then counseling or a leave of absence may be appropriate.

Whatever you decide to do with the harasser do it quickly, document it, and encourage the rest of your employees to speak out when they see harassment.

Don’t Retaliate Against the Complainant

This should be obvious to you, but it is illegal to punish someone for complaining about harassment, even if the claim is unfounded and dismissed after a proper investigation.

This means you can’t do any of the following as a result of an employee harassment complaint:

  • Terminate a complainant
  • Discipline them
  • Cut their pay
  • Demote them
  • Change their shift or work hours
  • Change their job responsibilities
  • Isolate them
  • Exclude them from meetings or other office functions
  • Or threaten any of the above

Now, if you’re a sensible manager you wouldn’t do any of these things anyway.

However, to legally protect yourself, you should take extra precaution against performing any actions that would imply retaliation against a complainant – because again, they can sue you even if their complaint was unfounded.

How Can You Prevent Employee Harassment Complaints?

If you want to prevent employee harassment complaints you have to learn how to prevent employee harassment.

To do that, you’ll need high-quality training that can teach your employees how to spot and prevent harassment in the workplace as well as training that teaches you and the rest of management how to prevent and mitigate harassment in the workplace.

But you probably don’t have the time nor the budget to afford a lengthy seminar or speaker.

What you need is on-demand training you can watch from any device, anywhere for quick and easy learning.

Where can you find high-quality employee harassment training that you can access immediately with nothing more than an internet connection?

Right here at Enterprise Training.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

Schedule Free Consultation