Colorado saw a 5 percent increase in harassment and discrimination filings from 2012 to 2013, according to the Network, a provider of governance, risk and compliance (GRC) solutions.
“Harassment and discrimination continues to rise in the …
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“Harassment and discrimination continues to rise in the workplace because of the lack of proper training companies provide employees,” said Jimmy Lin, vice president of product management and corporate development at the Network. “Too often, companies just hand employees a 200-page code of conduct and do little or no other training.”
An analysis from the Network revealed that 65 percent of staff members don’t know what their company’s harassment and discrimination policies are.
Charges filed for harassment or discrimination due to disability have been increasing in Colorado, with 593 filings in 2009, compared to 689 filings in 2013, a report by the EEOC states. Retaliation claims have remained somewhat steady but continue to be around 800 to 1,000 filings a year. Retaliation and disability are among the most costly types of settlement payouts coming in at $208 million a year combined, the Network reported. In 2012, the EEOC paid $365 million in harassment and discrimination settlement payments.
“Companies need to improve their harassment and discrimination training programs to raise overall awareness of these issues and provide employees clarity through scenarios,” Lin said. “With new training technologies out there and a much younger workforce, companies can no longer get away with just giving employees a manual. They need to create interactive courses that provide employees with real world examples that they can relate to, just in a more engaging way than on a piece of paper.”
This includes updated training methods and programs and periodic education as well as ongoing awareness communications.
Lin advises that a solid code of conduct paired with an anti-harassment policy that includes step-by-step instructions on what do if an employee learns of violations to company policy are just some of the strategies that organizations can put in place to prevent future cases from happening. While educating employees about what counts as discrimination as well as harassment, companies need to turn to managers who should be trained on how to handle issues and when to escalate them.
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