What are the details the details of these new anti-sexual harassment and training laws?
More and more we have been hearing about sexual harassment. We have been seeing high profile cases come against famous celebrities like Harvey Weinstein, and Bill Cosby. But sexual harassment is not just a problem in the entertainment industry. It is prevalent in industries across the board, even up to high levels of government.
People are starting to speak out, in public media, on the news, and through forums like the #MeToo movement. And the fact is, state and local governments are starting to take action.
Delaware is one of several states that has take recent legislative action to combat workplace sexual harassment. House Bill #360 went into effect January 1, 2019 and made several changes to the existing Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act (DDEA). View the Department of Labor’s News Bulletin.
Firstly, the laws spells out specifically what constitutes sexual harassment and is therefore unlawful. The following is deemed unlawful under the new definition:
- Conduct that includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employee’s employment
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis of employment for employment decisions affecting an employee
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an employee’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Secondly, it is now mandatory for all employers with 50 employees or more to provide interactive sexual harassment prevention training to all employees. Sexual harassment training must be provided to existing employees within 1 year of January 1st, 2019. All new hires must receive training within 1 year of their hire date.
New supervisors must receive additional interactive sexual harassment training within 1 year of starting the management position. Existing managers must complete training by January 1,2020. The additional training for supervisors must cover the prevention and correction of sexual harassment in the workplace as well as information in the illegality of retaliation. Every 2 years employees and supervisors must repeat sexual harassment training.
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What is included in the required sexual harassment training?
- Definition of sexual harassment with examples
- The illegality of sexual harassment
- A formal complaint process and legal remediation steps
- Information on how to contact the Delaware Department of Labor
- The legal prohibition against retaliation
- The specific responsibilities of a supervisor regarding the prevention and correction of sexual harassment
Lastly, Beginning January 1, 2019, each employer must distribute the Department of Labor’s Sexual Harassment Notice to each new employee upon commencement of employment, and to each existing employee by July 1, 2019. The notice explains sexual harassment, provides several examples, cautions against retaliation, and gives instructions on filing a complaint with the Department of Labor.
This notice, as well as the training, is meant to inform employees on the process of reporting complaints as well as the remedies provided. Employees should understand multiple avenues for reporting a grievance. This helps protect business and their employees because there are clear guidelines that employers and employees must follow. If employers take steps to follow these straightforward guidelines, they can vastly limit their likelihood of being liable in a sexual harassment claim.