Ask Jack: Should Skits Be Allowed During Sexual Harassment Training?

By Jack McCalmon, The McCalmon Group, Inc.

Dear Jack:

 

You do a lot of training. A trainer wants to do some skits during our sexual harassment training. What are your thoughts?

 

Signed: Carol

 

Dear Carol:


I am not a fan of in-person skits for equal employment training…whatsoever. First, your employees are not skilled trainers. They don't know appropriate boundaries. Part of the reason you are doing the training is to help them understand and establish boundaries.

Skits are often ad-lib. My concern is that someone could go over "the top" and offend others - or worse - harass someone. What if someone decides to touch someone inappropriately in front of others to illustrate a training point? You would face not only a harassment charge, but also possibly an assault and battery and/or an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim.

Employment issues, especially issues involving harassment and discrimination, are very personal. Not everyone comes to the training with the same experiences. Skits that involve humor, which can lead to charges that the training was not "serious enough", can be problematic as well as training that co-opts someone in the training audience to play the part of the "bad person" in a skit, which can lead to embarrassment or resentment.

I favor interactive on-demand training because it is tracked, self-paced, consistent, and because questions can be asked in private where there is no judgment - just information.

Jack McCalmon and Leslie Zieren are attorneys with more than 50 years combined experience assisting employers in lowering their risk, including answering questions, like the one above, through the McCalmon Group's Best Practices Help Line. The Best Practice Help Line is a service of The McCalmon Group, Inc. Your organization may have access to The Best Practice Help Line or a similar service from another provider at no cost to you or at a discount. For questions about The Best Practice Help Line or what similar services are available to you via this Platform, call 888.712.7667.

If you have a question that you would like Jack McCalmon or Leslie Zieren to consider for this column, please submit it to ask@mccalmon.com. Please note that The McCalmon Group cannot guarantee that your question will be answered. Answers are based on generally accepted risk management best practices. They are not, and should not be considered, legal advice. If you need an answer immediately or desire legal advice, please call your local legal counsel.

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