Sexual harassment in the workplace has been identified as a harmful form of discrimination ever since the 1970s. However, addressing its presence has become more prevalent since the #MeToo movement. Its occurrence has been experienced across a myriad of industries, although it has been more prevalent in the entertainment industry.
Examples of sexual harassment in the workplace both live and in online contacts, includes the following:
- Inappropriate touching and sexual gestures
- Making inappropriate comments about an employee's appearance
- Sending suggestive emails
- Showing inappropriate images in the workplace
- Staring at and making crude comments about someone's body
- Supervisors or non-supervisors asking personal sexual questions
- Telling sexually implied jokes or stories, consistently
The Coronavirus pandemic outbreak has sent a large majority of U.S. employees' home to perform many of their work functions. Prior to staying in place orders, men and women worked side by side. Even in this environment, sexual harassment raised its ugly head.
Just because we are now working from our homes, virtual harassment has been found to be prevalent. A research by The Pew Research Center supports that 41% of adult men and women have experienced online harassment.
If sexual harassment involves employees, employers must take steps to protect their employees even in a virtual setting. Employers must create a live workplace culture and a virtual workplace environment where employees feel respected and safe.
In Delaware, Maryland sexual harassment has been addressed through House Bill 360 (HB 360) (https://legis.delaware.gov/BillDetail/26453). HB 360 was passed in August 2018 and became effective January 2019. In summary, this House Bill legislation provides more protection for Delaware workers in sexual harassment situations.
HB 360 goes beyond protective measures for both men and women that was issued under the Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act. HB 350 addresses all sized businesses but there is no excuse not to remain in compliance with it. There are financial and regulatory consequences if an employer fails to protect their employees.
It is important for companies to understand their obligations under this law. HB 360 identifies and carries several legal components. It identifies sexual harassment as harmful when an employee is subject to unwelcome advances both of a verbal or physical nature.
A sexual or discriminatory act is not a part of an employee's employment expectations. Whether a harassment is either explicitly or implicitly experienced, it is not a part of an employee's employment practice.
If a sexual harassment's outcome affects a victim's work performance or creates a hostile or intimidating working environment, an employer is required to take immediate action. House Bill 360 is to be enacted by all Delaware employers with four or more employees.
This law also identifies employees under the category of state employees, apprentices, applicants, unpaid interns, and joint employees. HB 360 requires businesses with 50 or more employees to provide two hours of sexual harassment training. The training requirements under the law must provide the following:
- All supervisory employees in Delaware must undergo sexual harassment training every two years
- Training includes the education, prevention, and correction of sexual harassment, and victim remedies
- Training must be conducted by expert and knowledgeable individuals.
After the passage of HB 360, employers were held to a strict training requirement. This involved maintaining that training for all new hires and must be conducted within one year of their hire. All current employees must be trained by January 1, 2020. Training must also be provided every two years.
To remain in compliance, a Delaware business can use the professional training resources of "EasyLlama" (https://www.easyllama.com/). The professional educators at EasyLlama, through its easy to use online training, is your answer. Our HR experts have built training that are state and federal compliant. The courses can be completed on your company's scheduled time-frame, including using mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
Our online interactive and relatable format improves employees' understanding of harassment and discrimination and how to respond to these incidences. With the interactive videos, quizzes, both supervisors and non-supervisors are treated to mini compliance sessions.
Expert harassment training like that offered by EasyLlama must include the course requirements established by HB 360. The training requirements must further include the remedies and compliance process available to all employees.
Also, specific responsibilities of a supervisor is required as it pertains to the prevention and correction of any and all sexual harassment reports. After completing the online educational EasyLlama course, employees and employers will receive a certification identifying their HB 360 passage requirements.