Workplace Harassment

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued a report about harassment in the workplace after an EEOC task force conducted a year of hearings on the issue. Among the findings was that workplace harassment is as prevalent as ever. The report also recommended a number of new actions employers could take to combat harassment in the workplace. Attorney Jeff Brodin of Brodin HR Law will tell us about the report.

TED SIMONS: THE EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION RECENTLY ISSUED A REPORT ABOUT HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE, THIS AFTER AN EEOC TASK FORCE CONDUCTED A YEAR OF HEARINGS ON THE ISSUE. AMONG THE FINDINGS: WORKPLACE HARASSMENT IS AS PREVALENT AS EVER. HERE NOW TO TALK ABOUT THE REPORT IS ATTORNEY JEFF BRODIN OF BRODIN HR LAW. WELCOME TO "ARIZONA HORIZON."

JEFF BRODIN: THANK YOU, TED.

TED SIMONS: GOOD TO HAVE YOU HEAR. AS PREVALENT AS EVER? PEOPLE GO TO SEMINARS AND GET TRAINING IN THE PRIVATE WORKPLACE AND GOVERNMENT. THEY ARE TAUGHT, DON'T DO THIS. WHAT IS GOING ON?

JEFF BRODIN: SOME STATES MADATE TRAINING EVERY TWO YEARS. CALIFORNIA DOES. WHAT'S BECOME CLEAR IS THE TRAINING, THE APPROACH TAKEN BY EMPLOYERS IS NOT WORKING. 30 YEARS HARASSMENT HAS BEEN ILLEGAL UNDER TITLE 7, CIVIL RIGHT'S ACT. YET IT SEEMS LIKE THE EFFORTS THAT HAVE BEEN TAKEN TO THIS POINT HAVEN'T DONE ANYTHING. THE EEOC NOTICED AND SAID WE HAVE TO LOOK AT THIS. THEY PUT THE TERMINOLOGY ON HOW WE CAN REBOOT PREVENTION EFFORTS. THE STUDY FIRST LOOKED AT, WHERE ARE WE? WHAT DOES THIS LOOK LIKE? WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON? WHAT CAN WE COME UP WITH IN NEW WAYS.

TED SIMONS: DEFINE WORKPLACE HARASSMENT?

JEFF BRODIN: THEY WANTED TO KEEP IT MORE BROAD AND NOT SPLIT HAIRS OVER WHAT IS ILLEGAL OR NOT. THEY LOOKED AT UNWELCOME OR OFFENSIVE CONDUCT IN THE WORKPLACE TIED TO ONE OF THE PROHIBITED CATEGORIES, SEX, RACE, COLOR, NATIONAL ORIGIN, RELIGION, AGE, DISABILITY OR GENETIC INFORMATION AND THAT IT'S DETRIMENTAL TO THE EMPLOYEES WORK PERFORMANCE, WORK ADVANCEMENT OR MENTAL HEALTH.

TED SIMONS: SOMETHING IN THE REPORT THAT I FOUND VERY DISCONCERTING IS THAT HARASSMENT STILL OFTEN GOES UNREPORTED.

JEFF BRODIN: THOSE NUMBERS ARE QUITE STAGGERING, I THINK. OF THOSE THAT REPORTED INTERNALLY, IT'S ONE QUARTER OF THOSE THAT SUFFERED HARASSMENT. 15% OF THOSE THAT SUFFER HARASSMENT GO OUTSIDE TO THE EEOC.

TED SIMONS: WHY? THEY DON'T THINK THEY'LL BE BELIEVED, THEY THINK THERE'LL BE SOME RETALIATION, WHAT QARE THE REASONS?

JEFF BRODIN: 60 PERCENT OF PEOPLE THAT REPORTED IT WERE RETALIATED AGAINST.

TED SIMONS:OH MY GOODNESS.

SO THAT RETALIATION, NOT BEING BELIEVED, I THINK WE SAW IT IN THE PRESS THE MORE RECENT ALLEGATIONS MADE REFERENCE TO UBER AND A FORMER ENGINEER THAT WORKED THERE, SHE HAD A LITANY OF EXAMPLES WHERE SHE HAD TAKEN HER ISSUES TO MANAGEMENT AND THEY HADN'T BEEN LOOKED AT OR AGAINST AND IN FACT SHE HAD BEEN RETALIATED AGAINST.

TED SIMONS: NOT ONLY IN ACTION BUT RETALIATION FROM THE OTHER ANGLE. THE REPORT TALKS ABOUT A COMPELLING CASE IN TERMS OF BUSINESS. FORGET THE MORAL AND RIGHT THING TO DO, FROM THE BUSINESS ASPECT THIS IS COSTING MONEY.

JEFF BRODIN: HUGE NUMBERS. IF YOU TAKE THE 15% WHO'S GONE OUTSIDE, THOSE NUMBERS IN THE LAST YEAR, EMPLOYERS PAID $125 MILLION TO SETTLE THOSE CLAIMS. OVER FIVE YEARS, IT'S BEEN $700 MILLION. THAT'S A SMALL PERCENTAGE. THAT'S THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG. THE REAL COST COMES IN WHAT'S THE IMPACT ON WORKERS IN THE WORKPLACE SUFFERING UNDER THIS HARASSMENT? THEIR PRODUCTIVITY IS DOWN, THEY HAVE HEALTH ISSUES, IT'S IMPACTING COWORKERS. AND ULTIMATELY THE BIG ISSUE IS THEY QUIT. THE MOST EXPENSIVE THING IS TO REPLACE THEM. THE STANDARD NUMBER IS 7.5 TIMES COMPENSATION FOR AN EMPLOYEE. THAT'S WHAT IT'S COSTING YOU EACH TIME SOMEONE LEAVES. IT'S NOT JUST THE TARGET LEAVING, IT'S THE PEOPLE AROUND THEM. IF THIS GOES ON WITH THIS EMPLOYER, I'M OUT OF HERE.

TED SIMONS: THE SITUATION HAS NOT IMPROVE TODAY THE EXTENT MOST WOULD LIKE TO SEE IT IMPROVE. AS FAR AS TRAINING, GIVE US RECOMMENDATIONS?

JEFF BRODIN: IT THINK THEY CAME UP WITH SOME REALLY GOOD ONES. ONE IS THE COMPLIANCE TRAINING, THE TRADITIONAL TRAINING WE THINK OF IS GOOD. IT'S ENGAGING. IT'S LIVE. IT'S FOCUSED ON THE ONE PARTICULAR WORKPLACE. ONE OTHER ONE IS LOOKING AT BYSTANDER INTERVENTION TRAINING, SIMILAR TO WHAT'S USED ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES TO FIGHT SEXUAL ASSAULT. IT'S TRAINING CO-WORKERS TO RECOGNIZE WHAT SEXUAL HARASSMENT IS AND BE EMPOWERED TO REPORT IT AND REWARD THEM IF THEY DO SO PEOPLE THAT SEE IT, THEY HAVE THE MEANS TO REPORT IT. WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER, AND WE ARE RESOLVING IT TOGETHER RATHER THAN THE TARGET BEING ON THEIR OWN.

TED SIMONS: BYSTANDER TRAINING. NOT INVOLVED IN THE PAST?

JEFF BRODIN: NOT AT ALL.

TED SIMONS: THE IDEA IS TO CHANGE THE TRAINING, BUT THE TRAINING HAS TO BE MORE PREVENTATIVE, CORRECT?

JEFF BRODIN: CORRECT. THE OTHER ONE IS ENGAGING IN CIVIL TREATMENT TRAINING. IT'S NOT SO MUCH WE ARE GOING TO KEEP TRAINING YOU TO THINK DIFFERENTLY ABOUT WHAT'S HARASSING AND PROHIBITED. IT'S TRAINING YOU, IF YOU WORK HERE, THIS IS HOW YOU BEHAVE. IF YOU LEARN TO TREAT ONE ANOTHER IN THE WORKPLACE, YOU WON'T RUN INTO ISSUES OF HARASSMENT.

TED SIMONS: YOU ARE NOT TALKING A SLIGHT HERE OR THERE. YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT ACTIONABLE OFFENSES THINGAS THAT GO ON IN THE WORKPLACE THAT COULD RESULT IN CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.

JEFF BRODIN: IT STARTS WITH A FEW THINGS AND BUILDS. THEY FOUND THAT THE PEOPLE WHO ENGAGE IN THAT TYPE OF BEHAVIOR, IT TENDS TO BUILD AND SOMEDAY MAY BECOME ILLEGAL.

TED SIMONS: LEADERSHIP, ACCOUNTABILITY WITH LEADERSHIP, THAT'S CRITICAL.

JEFF BRODIN: ONE OF THE HUGE FINDINGS THEY HAVE IN THE STUDY, TO PREVENT HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE, HAS TO HAVE LEADERSHIP, CEO DOWN THIS WON'T BE TOLERATED. I THINK EVERYONE GETS THAT BUT THE PIECE THAT'S BEEN MISSING I THINK IS THE SECOND PIECE OF LEADERSHIP IS THE FRONT LINE LEADERS, THEY HAVE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR STOPPING IT WHEN THEY SEE IT, DEALING WITH IT APPROPRIATELY, TAKING IT FORWARD. FRONT LINE LEADERS, THEY FOUND THE BIGGEST GAP IN NOT WORKING TO END HARASSMENT.

TED SIMONS: WHAT DO WE TAKE FROM THE REPORT?

JEFF BRODIN: WE NEED TO CHANGE WHAT WE ARE DOING. EMPLOYERS NEED TO TAKE A HOLISTIC APPROACH, TOP DOWN, GET LEADERSHIP INVOLVED, FRONT LINE AND TOP LEADERSHIP, GET A CLEAR POLICY IN PLACE, GET THAT COMMUNICATED, HAVE REPORTING PROCEDURES, SOMETHING EMPLOYEES ARE COMFORTABLE WITH AND THAT WORK, HAVE TRAINING WE TALKED ABOUT AND GET CREATIVE, IN TESTING, DON'T GO FOR A CHECK OFF THE BOX APPROACH.

TED SIMONS: VERY INTERESTING. GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE. THURSDAY ON "ARIZONA HORIZON," HEAR ABOUT A PLAN THAT COULD PUMP A BILLION DOLLARS INTO THE STATE'S UNIVERSITIES. AND A NEW REPORT SHOWS THAT ARIZONA'S HIGHER MINIMUM WAGE WILL HAVE A NEGLIGIBLE IMPACT ON THE STATE'S BUDGET. THAT'S AT 5:30 ON THE NEXT "ARIZONA HORIZON." THAT'S IT FOR NOW. I'M TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

Jeff Brodin: Attorney at Brodin HR Law

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