If you aren’t providing them training in how to make these all-important hiring decisions, you may be making an “extraordinary mistake,” according to a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals decision rendered in 2001. Mathis v. Phillips Chevrolet, Inc., 269 F.3d 771 (7th Cir. 2001)
The court’s decision confirms the wisdom of requiring that all hiring managers attend training on lawful and nondiscriminatory hiring, screening, and interviewing practices. The court said that “Leaving managers with hiring authority in ignorance of the basic features of the discrimination laws is an ‘extraordinary mistake’ for a company to make, and a jury can find that such an extraordinary mistake amounts to reckless indifference” of anti-discrimination laws.
In two important cases regarding sexual harassment decided in 1998, the U.S. Supreme court set the stage for regular employment practices training. To avoid liability for sexual harassment, the Court said employers had two duties:
a. Take reasonable steps to prevent harassment.
b. Correct promptly any sexually harassing behavior.
Basic prevention and correction practices include adopting appropriate policies, giving each employee a copy of the policies, training both supervisors and employees, promptly investigating complaints, and enforcing the policies adequately and consistently. It is clear that supervisor and employee training must occur regularly if it is to effectively transform a workplace culture.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission expect employers to provide compliance training. The trend in the courts and with governing agencies is clear: training in employment laws and practices is now the rule, not the exception.
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