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Is sexual harassment training enough?

In 2017, the #MeToo Movement took hold, and millions of people joined the fight to make inappropriate sexual contact a thing of the past. This movement also affected the workplace as many women finally felt it was appropriate to step forward and speak out about their experience with sexual harassment from co-workers or an employer. Despite the improvements made, sexual harassment training is not a requirement in every state.

Florida does not currently require employers to train workers in recognizing, preventing and reporting sexual harassment, but many companies do. It is not immediately clear whether mandated training has done much to help the problem. There is a lot of discrepancy regarding the type of training used, the enforcement of the training and who actually does the training.

Stemming this type of reprehensible behavior in the workplace starts from the top. Employers bear the responsibility of making sure that workers feel safe and secure in their work environment. This means making it abundantly clear that harassment will not be tolerated, including guidelines in employment manuals and taking complaints seriously. Allowing the development of a hostile work environment or failing to address issues promptly can allow for a continuation of mistreatment.

In a Florida workplace, sexual harassment is unacceptable regardless of state-mandated training. If an employee experiences this, he or she may have grounds to move forward with a civil claim against the employer. While this cannot reverse what happened, it can allow the claimant to address any financial losses and secure damages for things such as emotional duress and trauma. 

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