Federal Harassment Training Requirements


Harassment Training Requirements

The federal government does not currently require that state entities or private organizations administer sexual harassment prevention training to employes. Though, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does strongly encourage employers to provide “regular, interactive, comprehensive training of all employees…” and that it “ensure that the workforce understands organizational rules, policies, procedures, and expectations, as well as the consequences of misconduct.” 

In addition to this, many states recommend that harassment prevention training be administered on a regular basis. States that recommend regular training include but are not limited to Idaho, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, and South Dakota. Many states also mandate that some or all state employees receive sexual harassment prevention training. This list includes Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. The following table indicates effective harassment training recommendations from the EEOC.

Topic Required by Law   |   Topic Not Required by Law

  • Topics
  • Regulations
  • Legislation
  • EEOC Harassment Training Recommendations
  • Who needs to be trained?
  • All employees
  • Time requirements
  • None
  • Frequency
  • Repeated regularly
  • Interactivity / Ability to ask questions and get trainer's answers

    Where the employee learner can ask questions about the concepts in a safe, anonymous way and get answers and guidance from subject matter experts.

  • Definition of protected characteristics

    A description of the personal characteristics that are protected by law in each state.

  • Types of sexual harassment (quid pro quo and hostile work environment)

    A description of the actions or situations that would create either quid pro quo harassment (this for that) or hostile work environment harassment.

  • Parties to harassment

    A lesson about different people who can be involved in harassment, such as co-workers, clients, interns, a person of any gender.

  • Remedies available

    A lesson about what a person can recover in a lawsuit for harassment, such as money for economic harm, emotional harm, etc.

  • Strategies to prevent harassment

    A description about the different personal and organizational behaviors to promote respect and minimize harassment.

  • Practical examples from case law, news, and media

    Real stories to illustrate the concepts.

  • Limited confidentiality of the complaint process

    A lesson about the logistics of filing a harassment complaint and how there is no legal right to confidentiality.

  • Resources for victims and complainants

    A description of the employer's resources that are designed to help people complaining of harassment.

  • Duty to investigate

    A lesson on the legal duty of the employer to investigate all claims of harassment and the minimum requirements of the investigation.

  • What to do if supervisor is personally accused

    A lesson on how a supervisor or manager should respond if accused by a subordinate employee of harassment.

  • Personal liability of harasser / Criminal liability

    Information about if and when an employee can be sued personally for harassment (as opposed to just named in the lawsuit) and if an accused faces criminal liability.

  • Supervisor's obligation to report harassment

    A lesson for supervisors to teach them to promptly report any claims of harassment, even if it doesn't appear like a formal complaint.

  • Elements of the employer's harassment policy

    A lesson outlining and covering all the components of the employer's harassment policy and complaint procedure.

  • Review of the elements of abusive conduct

    Information about when conduct is considered abusive and, whether abusive conduct is illegal in that region. For example, abusive conduct is not illegal in any state in the United States but it is illegal in different provinces in Canada.

  • Bystander intervention

    A lesson on how people who witness harassing or disrespectful conduct can and should intervene to protect the employee and stop the conduct.

  • Retaliation

    A lesson on when actions meet the criteria of retaliation and an explanation that retaliation is illegal.

  • Protected Characteristics in Federal

    • Race
    • Color
    • National Origin
    • Religion
    • Gender (including pregnancy)
    • Disability
    • Age (if the employee is at least 40 years old)
    • Citizenship Status

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