AMERICUS, GEORGIA: March 19, 2019 – In a time of alarmingly high numbers of reports discrimination and harassment across the county, the City of Americus leads in prevention with its “Anti-Harassment Training.” Sessions were held over a three-day period last week for all employees conducted by employment law firm Elarbee Thompson based in Atlanta. Ninety-two percent employee participation was achieved at the conclusion of the last session. Those that were not able to attend the in-person training will have the opportunity to look at the video that is made accessible on the employee intranet. New-hires also review the training video during New Employee Orientation.
The training was quite timely as recently, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) convened an Industry Leaders Roundtable Discussion on Harassment Prevention “to better understand the needs of the workers and employers in their industries and the wide range of solutions to prevent workplace harassment,” according to EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. The roundtable discussion is an important step in furthering the Commission’s goal of ending workplace harassment and implementing strategies to ensure the Commission remains a valuable resource in this area.
“Nationally, the sheer number of people who have experienced an episode of harassment or discrimination is unacceptably high,” said Dee Jones, Director of Human Resources. “Prioritizing this training is our attempt to proactively handle potential problems and create a culture where we celebrate diversity.”
In addition to the employee discussions, sessions were held specifically for the supervisors and managers to provide necessary tools to support the City’s zero- tolerance posture. The trainings are a compliment to the established policies and procedures and held every two years.
“Every individual needs to feel it’s their responsibility to work in a harassment free environment. There are too many people who sit around and see things and don’t do anything,” said Fire Chief Roger Bivins after attending the management sessions. “Having this training gives us a chance to discuss and role-play before we are required to act.”
Considering that sexual harassment lawsuits filed by the EEOC increased by 50 percent in 2017, wherein damages paid by employers rose from $47 million to $70 million, it is imperative more companies and governments understand new regulations, as well as alternate prevention methods, and invest sufficient resources in preventing and putting an end to harassment in the workplace. The City of Americus’ pervasive training demonstrates its commitment to integrity and shines a light on the impact that harassment can have on the lives of the victims and the community. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of workplace harassment, trainings like this help to suggest a more meaningful and proactive approach that focuses on prevention of harmful behavior.