Is Sexual Harassment Training Enough to Prevent Lawsuits?

Denver, CO-Allegations of sexual harassment and the subsequent lawsuits can become very messy and costly for an employer. In an effort to prevent sexual harassment lawsuits and make a workplace less hostile, employers require their employees undergo sexual harassment training, but some question the effectiveness of such training programs.

If you’ve ever worked for a large company, your sexual harassment training likely consisted of a few videos which depict scenarios of sexual harassment. Some employers go so far as to have an actual person conduct the sexual harassment training After viewing the videos or an training session, you were probably asked to sign a form affirming that you have gone through the “training.”

Some employees just don’t understand that there are some things you cannot and should not say to a coworker or subordinates. They just don’t understand why the target of their inappropriate comments or unwanted touching even if it is as simple as a hug doesn’t appreciate or like it. Even with training, they cannot understand why their coworkers aren’t flattered by the attention or why they are so easily offended.

This is indicative of the disconnect between men and women and makes it nearly impossible to completely eliminate sexual harassment from the workplace, even with a strong training program.

On this website we frequently write about sexual harassment lawsuits, which give us insight into what the harasser is thinking. Aside from denying that their behavior is harassment, they just don’t understand why the object of their harassment is “so sensitive.”

A 2011 poll from ABC News and the Washington Post showed that one in four women have been sexually harassed at work, even with nearly five decades of protections outlined by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This leaves some to question why sexual harassment training can be ineffective in some workplaces. To understand this, researchers have studied why harassment occurs in the first place. This can clarify why sexual harassment happens, but that understanding is just the first step.

In a 2008 study appearing the in a trade journal, Sex Roles, researchers questioned men from the Arlington, Texas. The researchers found that the men were more likely sexually harass a woman if they felt rejected or felt they were being criticized by a woman.

This would comport with other studies have shown that sexual harassment is less about flirting and sexual attraction and more about asserting power in the workplace.

“These findings also support recent speculation that men’s sexual harassment of women is related to aggression rather than seduction,” the authors of the study wrote.

Perhaps an effective sexual harassment training program should include talking about how the harassment actually affects the victim. Every man has a mother, wife, sister or daughter therefore understanding the negative emotional effects sexual harassment can have on a victim could go a long way in preventing it and help employers avoid future liability.

Effective training can combat some harassment, but employers have a long way to go in their training to cut down on the pervasiveness of sexual harassment.