Friday, February 26, 2010

Is it sexual harassment to teach about sexual harassment?

Awhile back I read about a woman who refused to attend the mandatory diversity training sessions at her company because the content violated her religious beliefs (she did not believe all people were equal -- specifically gay people.) The case went to court, and last I heard was being appealed.

But seeing a note to myself about that training issue made me think. What if the very nature of sexual harassment training, with all its talk of unwanted advances and inappropriate touching was deemed a form of sexual harassment by some employees? It could be seen by some, I suppose, as creating a "sexually charged atmosphere" while others might view the training content and.or images as offensive.

I'm wondering if any of our readers have encountered a situation like this. Has anyone at your company, or anyone you've known of, ever sought an exemption from sexual harassment training because of the content? And if so, how was it handled?


Training Vanzari said...

Unfortunately this is a good reason not to go to training

Training Time said...

I agree with you 100%, Vanzari...but in our lawsuit-happy world of HR, it's something to keep in mind.

If nothing else, it means it's critical to select high quality training which teaches the lessons with a minimum of off-color content, even if that content is being used to illustrate "what-not-to-do"

Heath Davis Havlick said...

Oy- as if HR didn't have enough to worry about!

Guy Farmer said...

From my experience it helps to set up sexual harassment training in the form of discussions on how people relate to each other. When we take the highly charged words like sexual or harassment out of the training environment we can help people work through challenges like this by teaching how to communicate well or build empathy.

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