New Year, New Resolutions

January 3, 2012

It is once again that time of the year when we begin to look forward to a new year and new beginnings: Out with the old, in with the new. Something that is not so new is the federal government’s increased scrutiny of the way employers treat their employees. From harassment and discrimination to wages and immigration, various government agencies have stepped up their enforcement efforts to prosecute non-compliant employers. That is an excellent reason why employers should resolve to provide EEO training for managers and supervisors in the new year.

In the voluminous pages of federal statutes and regulations dealing with the employer/employee relationship, you will not find anything that actually requires management training. However, some states, most notably California, do require training for managers and supervisors for illegal workplace harassment. Despite this absence of any federal regulatory law, there are many cases that have found that an employer’s failure to provide such training was tantamount to a violation of the law itself. So, the assertion that EEO training for managers and supervisors is mandatory is not too far off-base.

The training itself should be provided to anyone with any supervisory authority over your company’s employees. When supervisors and managers make decisions pertaining to employees, the law views those decisions as decisions of the company itself-not just the supervisor. Accordingly, supervisors and managers must be armed with an understanding, or at least an awareness of particular laws so that that the decisions they make in dealing with employees will be less likely to lead to potential liability for the company. The training should cover the basics such as:

  • What employees are protected under the law
  • How the law protects those individuals
  • Illegal harassment
  • Retaliation
  • Dealing with injured and disabled employees
  • Proper documentation and discipline

Certainly we cannot expect supervisors and managers to be experts on the law. However, with proper training we can expect those with supervisory authority to at least be able to spot tricky issues and ask for help in making decisions. That step alone makes the training process invaluable and will lead to a much happier, and prosperous, new year.