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  • Author: Kathy Barany

    If you haven't been bombarded ad nauseam regarding sexual (and other) harassment in the workplace, please take the time to read this blog, for yet another opinion, and brief bit of advice.

    I have been conducting harassment prevention training and education sessions for decades, and oh what changes I have seen! We have gone from a society that never came forward, to one that now hashtags "me too". Me too what?  Me too have been harassed?  Me too has encountered somebody who I think wanted to harass me?  Me too has been subject to somebody's bad behavior and I wonder if it was harassment? Or me too wants to make somebody's life miserable by coming forward decades later and saying what a bad person somebody was to me?  Who knows.  I don't think we will ever know for sure.

    What we DO know, is that society has changed.  It really doesn't matter what our opinion is about the "me too" craze.  What matters is that if we are responsible business owners, managers, and employees, we will want to make sure our actions, and the actions of coworkers, don't put people or our company in jeopardy.   We will RESPECT our employees right to a comfortable workplace; we will educate our employees on their rights and responsibilities; and as employers, we will ensure our door is open so employees can express concerns without fear of reprisal.

    My opinion?  It is critical that employees know the difference between harassment and someone exhibiting bad behavior.  And, it is critical that employers stop bad behavior before it leads to harassment; the line between the two is very fine, and is easy to cross.

    My advice?  Ensure you and your employees are properly informed.  It doesn't have to take hours and hours of training.  The EEOC has certain pieces of information they want to see included in training sessions, and they want to see the training done by a live person.  A live person gives employees the opportunity for questions and answers.  I also recommend having someone outside of your organization do the training.  My experience has been that employees take it more seriously, and feel better about asking questions.  It is kind of like children; Mom and Dad tell them to do something and they don't listen, or don't find credibility in it.  A stranger tells them, and they are more likely to listen.

    Recently I was interviewed by CNY Central/channel 3 regarding harassment in the workplace.  Below is a link to that article and interview. 

    One last thing, for now.  If a harassment case is brought forward, one of the things the EEOC and Human Rights considers when determining what action to take against the employer, is what the employer has done to educate and prevent.  If Ben Franklin was still alive, when it comes to harassment training, he would tell you that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!