Posted 02-25-2015

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) just released its 2014 statistics, and the numbers look good for employers. Down from the all-time high of 99,947 in 2011, the number of EEOC charges in 2014 was 88,778, a reduction of more than 11%. In that total are 6,862 sexual harassment claims (17.5% brought by men), and 8,826 racial harassment claims.

California has also reported a reduction in employment discrimination claims. In 2012, there were 19,839 claims, but only 18,480 in 2013, a seven percent drop. Sexual harassment charges declined by more than 26%, from 6,169 to 4,542.

What has led to these notable decreases in claims of discrimination and harassment?  The improving economy certainly deserves credit, and, we like to think, so does harassment prevention training. Maine led the way in requiring harassment prevention training for managers in 1991, followed by Connecticut the next year. California followed with AB 1825 in 2004, as supplemented by AB 2053 last year.

The new California law adds “abusive conduct”, defined as “conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests” to the required training subjects. The proposed AB 2053 regulations specify that:

The emphasis should be on explaining the negative effects that abusive conduct has on the victim of the conduct as well as others in the workplace. The discussion should also include information about the detrimental consequences of this conduct on employers – including a reduction in productivity and morale. The training should specifically discuss the elements of “abusive conduct” including the fact that it is defined as conduct with malice that a reasonable person would find hostile or offensive and that is not related to an employer’s legitimate business interests (including performance standards). Finally, the training should emphasize that a single act shall not constitute abusive conduct, unless the act is especially severe or egregious.

Fair Measures has included workplace bullying as a topic in our Harassment Prevention Training since 2011. We expanded those materials in the 2013 edition, and have revised and further expanded them in the 2015 version to cover all of the AB 2053 requirements. Available both as a classroom presentation and through an instructor-led webinar, our programs and their learning points are remembered by managers because we make them fully interactive. We use videos, case studies, polls, and extensive Q&A to help participants learn about laws and company practices for preventing harassment and abusive conduct so they can maintain a respect-filled workplace for all.

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.