Susan Gross Sholinsky, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in Law360 Employment Authority, in “6 Ways to Improve Employers' Anti-Harassment Training,” by Vin Gurrieri. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

The telework explosion that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed workplace sexual harassment and the training seminars designed to mitigate it increasingly into the virtual world, creating new challenges for employers seeking to curb bad behavior.

Several years removed from the #MeToo movement's going viral, many employers are paying closer attention to their anti-harassment practices than ever before and some jurisdictions now mandate periodic training.

But while the increasing use of virtual anti-harassment training sessions that substitute Zoom for a conference room may make it simpler for employers to train workforces that are becoming more geographically separated, they also make it easier than ever for some workers to go through the motions to get their required training out of the way as quickly as possible. …

Here, lawyers offer six tips to make harassment prevention training more effective.

Create "Connections" in the Digital Realm

Although online training seminars are nothing new, their prevalence has grown as millions of workers were pushed to work from home because of the pandemic over the past year. Similarly, sexual harassment itself and other forms of harassing behavior have also migrated online, where teleworkers' interactions with colleagues predominantly take place. …

Susan Gross Sholinsky, a member at Epstein Becker Green who sits on the firm's COVID-19 task force, similarly said that the "more relatable and interactive a training session is, the more effective it is." She said that live training, whether in person or digital, offers the benefit of being tailored to specific industries or issues a particular organization is dealing with and can be adjusted on the fly based on audience reaction.  

But if a company chooses to use a prerecorded training program, Sholinsky said it "works best when it is updated from time to time," such as by adding examples of remote work harassment in light of many workers' current situations.

"That makes it more relevant for the participants," Sholinsky said.

Ask If It's Interactive Enough

Besides being a best practice for getting the most out of training sessions, infusing interactivity into seminars is also a requirement in some jurisdictions.

New York, for example, responded to the #MeToo movement in part by imposing a legal requirement on employers to provide annual sexual harassment training to their workers that meets minimum criteria set by the state. That baseline includes a requirement that training be interactive and generate employee participation. California similarly requires employers to provide a certain amount of "effective interactive training," according to state regulations.

The interactivity component, lawyers say, is key to conducting a training seminar that is both meaningful and legal, depending on where a company is located.

"These sessions should be as interactive as possible, and should include scenarios that demonstrate the concepts being taught, instead of just listing the applicable legal standards," Sholinsky said, noting that use of different forms of media during presentations is helpful in achieving that goal.

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