Starting this year, almost all employees in California will be required to receive sexual harassment prevention training, Capital Public Radio reports. Under the new law, employers will need to give all employees one hour of training every two years, whereas before such training was only required for supervisors.
Illinois mandated that companies provide yearly workplace training on how to spot and stop sexual harassment or be subject to stiff fines, effective January 1. So reports The Chicago Tribune. For now, employers with more than 15 workers will need to provide the training, but by July 1, 2021, businesses that have at least one employee will be subject to the law. “A lot of employers are panicking,” says Kimberly Ross a Chicago-based attorney for FordHarrison, a law firm focused on labor and employment.
There were more than 500 sexual harassment charges filed in the state in 2018, versus about 350 in 2017, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission notes. The Illinois Department of Human Rights will release a free curriculum for businesses to serve as a training guide for them to implement their own policy.
Well known corporate players, including Uber, United Airways and Chipotle, have garnered media attention for recent lawsuits and investigations. Uber will create a $4.4 million fund as part of a settlement of a federal investigation that found the auto hailing giant encouraged a workplace environment that enabled sexual harassment and retaliation, USA Today reports. Uber allowed for "a culture of sexual harassment and retaliation against individuals who complained about such harassment,” the EEOC notes. “This agreement holds Uber accountable, and, going forward, positions the company to innovate and transform the tech industry by modeling effective measures against sexual harassment and retaliation,” says Victoria Lipnic, EEOC Commissioner.
In 2017, a former Uber employee blasted her company’s upper management and human resources department in a blog after for they failed to take a sexual harassment complaint seriously, as we previously reported.
In another EEOC action, United Airlines last month agreed to pay $321,000 plus attorneys fees for a sexual harassment lawsuit, Business Insurance reports. The EEOC had accused a captain for the airline of sexually harassing a flight attendant over a number of years.
Also, as 2019 ended, Chipotle Mexican Grill agreed to pay a former employee $95,000 in lost wages and damages, MarketWatch reports. The male worker alleged that his female supervisor sexually harassed him, and “slapped, groped, and grabbed [his] buttocks and groin area numerous times,” the EEOC notes in a lawsuit that it filed on behalf of the worker.
Fox News also faced the spotlight again with a new movie, Bombshell, released December 20. The movie tells of sexual harassment accusations made by former news anchors Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly against former CEO Roger Ailes, NPR reports. The scandal, which ignited after Carlson’s 2016 sexual harassment lawsuit, led to Ailes being forced to reign in July that year, Time reports. A total of 20 women filed complaints against Ailes, who died in 2017.