Can compliance training save companies from sexual harassment lawsuits! Read more…
Compliance training is such an important requirement for companies because of the increased protection of the common man such as employees and customers by the government authorities.
Industry watchdogs like EEOC have started imposing strict regulations so that the employees don’t suffer due to workplace problems such as sexual harassment. Women can be subject to quid pro quo sexual harassment, which involves not getting to keep their job and being rejected for promotions due to rejection of sexual advances. The second form of harassment includes not promoting a woman because of gender bias.
Companies need to take the issue of employee harassment seriously because penalties are high. The companies can suffer major damage when any kind of lawsuit is filed against them due to discriminatory employment practices. An employer is liable to pay penalties once it’s discovered that he knew of such a misdemeanor but did nothing to stop it. Hence e-learning for employers and managers is important so that they can act timely action before the matter escalates and reaches the court.
Penalties for sexual harassment charges
If an employee is fired from the job or decides to leave it due to sexual harassment, then he/she can file a lawsuit. In that case, an employer has to pay damages to the employee for his/her economic losses. These kinds of losses are counted from the time a victim was jobless to the time the harassment lawsuit was settled and he/she is reinstated. An employee could also have been denied a promotion due to sexual harassment and he can ask for monetary compensation till the time it’s proved in the court depending on the salary hike he deserved.
The second kinds of payment are compensatory damage because of the agony of the victim.
A victim also has to incur charges for the court fees and hence an employee has to reimburse him for such expenses known as legal fees.
Hence, the compliance training courses through e-learning need to be designed particularly for the HR managers who ensure that the rules are followed. Although the businesses have started taking the right steps in this direction by implementing a hotline where the employees can complain, they have proved to be useless.
.How can hotlines be made effective?
The anonymity of complainants in hotlines
A major reason is that these hotlines don’t ask the employees to reveal their identities, which causes problems in getting justice for them. The complainants don’t wish to be identified because getting known as a sexual harassment victim is not easy. When the case goes under investigation, the victim’s reputation is at stake, however, without any details on their hands, the authorities can’t follow up on such grievances. The employees should know that when an investigation happens, the companies want them to cooperate in disclosing the details. The former can’t be complacent after filing the complaint and there is some after-work also. Another obligation of HR is to ensure that the employees must know about the hotline. These helplines should be available to employees all the time for registering complaints because sometimes they like to report an issue after discussing it with their family members. So, such helplines should be accessible even after office hours.
They can be informed about it during their onboarding sessions via e-learning or in person, or included in company newsletters. Such newsletters are excellent ways to forward information about a harassment incident and how justice was meted. Such incidents can also be brought into employees’ knowledge through the company intranet.
Reliance on hotlines only
Another problem is that the company’s HR should also consult other sources for getting informed about employees’ grievances. These sources are considered more reliable by the employees because they consider complaining to a known authority more credible. The employees might find it simpler to put forward their problem to a supervisor who is in direct contact with them or a manager. In a report, it has been revealed that only 11%of suffering employees use hotlines to file complaints.
When HR is being blamed
Sometimes even if the whistleblower reveals details of his perpetrator during the hotline call, he may never get any justice because the HR is being charged with such misconduct. The company may refuse to initiate any action against the latter. Hence the employees don’t get what they deserve.
E-learning helps in getting the right hotline vendor on-board
ELearning can help a company’s managers deal with such issues because they can ask for so many services while taking a third-party vendor hotline. They can ensure that certain callers who have accusations against certain managers are given hotline numbers to safeguard their identities. This way, such callers can protect themselves from retaliation. Such employees will only talk on those hotline numbers and this way their complaint is not divulged to many people. It’s the job of the hotline vendor to see that such complaints are only shared with the people in the senior management positions in companies.
Although when special hotline numbers are used for receiving complaints, the identities of such employees can’t be protected when legal proceedings start against the accused. Then the latter will get to know who filed the complaint against him. Hence then it’s HR’s job to ensure that no vindictive measure is taken against the accused. That’s why e-learning for all the employees and HR is mandatory so that the distressed employees get justice.