June 8, 2017

Policy on Harassment and Discrimination Not Enough to Minimize Employer Liability

Last year, the Society for Human Resource Management reported a case where having a detailed policy prohibiting harassment in the workplace is not always enough to shield an employer against liability for sexual harassment. An employee of the Caddo Parish School Board in Louisiana felt that she was being verbally and physically harassed by her supervisor, but failed to make an official complaint to the school board at the time of the occurrence. When the employee did decide to file a lawsuit alleging unlawful harassment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 years later, the lower court decided that the school board had exercised “reasonable care.” The court concluded that the school board had maintained a detailed sexual harassment policy, posted it on bulletin boards and provided sexual harassment training to its employees on a regular basis.

The ruling was appealed and the appeals court reversed and sent the case back to the lower court. The appeals court noted that a purported victim’s awareness of a sexual harassment policy is relevant to whether an employer exercised “reasonable care” to prevent harassment. The plaintiff produced witnesses willing to testify that, among the clerical staff, employees had not received harassment training, were neither informed of the policy nor shown where to find it, and were not told who to contact regarding complaints of sexual harassment.

Starting in August, Western Growers (WG) will host a series of trainings throughout California to help businesses effectively implement policies that help minimize employer liability for sexual harassment. WG’s Harassment, Discrimination & Abusive Conduct Prevention trainings will illustrate the importance of employer policies being well-communicated and explained to employees in order to be legally and operationally effective. Policies that exist only in a binder are not enough.

WG trainings will assist managers in learning what steps need to be taken to ensure that all employees understand the organization’s policy on harassment and discrimination. The training will provide managers and supervisors with a comprehensive understanding of what behavior constitutes harassment and discrimination, how to be sensitive to their own behavior and the behavior of the employees around them, and understand what conditions might lead to a claim of harassment or discrimination by an employee.

WG’s Harassment, Discrimination & Abusive Conduct Prevention courses are being offered in both English and Spanish. All sessions are available to WG members and their employees for $60.00.


August 17, 2017 – Salinas
Western Growers Field Office
928 East Blanco Road, Suite 210
Salinas, CA 93901

Only 10 seats available in each session

September 26, 2017 – Irvine
Western Growers
Phoenix Training Room
15525 Sand Canyon Avenue
Irvine, CA 92618

Only 15 seats available in each session

October 26, 2017 – Imperial
Farm Credit Services Southwest
485 Business Parkway
Imperial, CA 92251

Only 20 seats available in each session

If you have any questions regarding the training, please feel free to contact Adriana Robles at (949) 885-2297.