Katrina Walasik, Andrea Douglas Quoted in “Take Time to Revamp Training in Era of #MeToo Movement”

Hospitality Law June 2018

Katrina J. Walasik, Associate, and Andrea K. Douglas, Senior Attorney, in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Los Angeles office, were quoted in Hospitality Law, in “Take Time to Revamp Training in Era of #MeToo Movement.”

Following is an excerpt:

Sexual harassment charges filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission dipped slightly in 2017, but in the past decade, the number of filings have remained fairly steady with about 12,000 complaints brought to the agency annually by employees.

While these complaints span every industry, the EEOC fields more sexual harassment charges from the hospitality industry than any other, says Katrina Walasik, an associate in the Los Angeles office of Epstein Becker Green.

Given the nature of the hospitality indus­try — late hours, a young and more transient workforce, often blurred lines between supervi­sors and subordinates — it’s unsurprising that hospitality employers receive more than their fair share of harassment complaints.

Walasik says that’s why employers need to be proactive with their prevention strategies.

“It’s extremely important for employers to be mindful of how powerful training can be … in order to prevent and correct harassment as part of a more comprehensive antidiscrimina­tion program,” she said in a recent webinar on revisiting sexual harassment training in the aftermath of the #MeToo movement. “Training should be specifically tailored to your workforce and their particular working environment.”

However, the traditional training that many companies have provided over the years may be doing little to change employee behaviors, says Walasik. She urges employers to focus their training on creating a more holistic and respectful work environment for all employees.

Andrea Douglas, a senior attorney in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice in the Los Angeles office of Epstein Becker Green, says research has shown that the most effective sexual harassment training programs are at least four hours in length, con­ducted in person, and tailored to the audience.

“Effective training must address behaviors that employers consider unacceptable,” she says. The training must also identify the consequences of engaging in those behaviors, and identify the internal and external resources available to employees who are experiencing or witnessing the harassment.