HR Basics: Temp Employees Really Need Anti-Harassment Training, Too

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Aug 10, 2015

By Eric B. Meyer

In these Summer months, it’s easy to relax a bit.

But, don’t relax too much at work. As one employer found out, it’s easy to slip up when training (or not training, as the case may be) temporary workers.

For example, in this recent case, a temporary employee alleged that she was a victim of sexual harassment. The company defended by arguing that, when it later hired the plaintiff as a full-time employee, it provided her with an employee handbook with an effective anti-harassment policy.

No employee handbook until hired full time

Do you see where I’m going with this? The Court does:

Defendant asserts it has an effective policy and thus is shielded from any claim it is vicariously liable for the alleged actions of Mitchell, Williams, Cruzado, and Martinho, but there is a question of fact whether defendant exercised reasonable care to prevent and to promptly correct the alleged harassment in light of the fact it failed to provide plaintiff with the Employee Handbook until she was hired as a permanent employee and failed to give her any training during her term of temporary employment.

Plaintiff may not have endured — or at least may have been able to minimize — the sexual harassment she experienced if defendant had advised her when initially hired as a temporary employee of the remedies available in the event she were harassed. Therefore, there exists a factual dispute whether defendant’s policy meets the standard necessary to enable it to take advantage of the safe haven affirmative defense, precluding summary judgment for the time period when plaintiff was a temporary employee.”

Before you know it, the holiday shopping season will be upon us. Retail establishments and others seeing a spike in demand should remember this case and provide anti-harassment training to all employees — full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary.

The rest of you should train everyone too.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

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