The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has launched newtraining this month aimed at helping employers to create arespectful workplace environment.

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The Society for Human Resource Management reports that two new harassment prevention programs, “Leading forRespect” for supervisors and “Respect in the Workplace” foremployees, highlight civility, acceptable workplace conduct and behaviors that contributeto an inclusive workplace. The supervisor training is four hours,and employee training is three hours.

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An EEOC report indicates that nearly a third of approximately 90,000 chargesreceived by the EEOC in fiscal year 2015 alone included anallegation of workplace harassment. Charges spanned the categoriesof gender, race, disability, age, ethnicity/national origin, colorand religion, breaking down as follows: 45 percent alleging sexualharassment; 34 percent racial harassment; 19 percent disability; 15percent age; 13 percent national origin; and 5 percentreligion.

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Related: 10 mistakes to avoid in your employeehandbook

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And not only are workplace harassment charges expensive to thebusiness in which they occur—in 2016, the EEOC recovered $164.5million for workers alleging harassment—it also contributes todecreased productivity and increased turnover.

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The new training differs from traditional compliance trainingthat’s focused more on liability and legal definitions, which hasbeen shown to be ineffective because it can come across as tooabstract, boring and not relevant to workers' experiences.

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On the other hand, the new programs incorporate the EEOCreport’s recommendations on compliance, workplace civility andbystander intervention training and are designed “to stop improperbehavior before it ever rises to the level of illegal harassment,”according to Chai Feldblum, commissioner of the EEOC.

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In a statement, Feldblum says, “We know that workplaceincivility often acts as a ‘gateway drug’ to workplace harassment.These trainings, therefore, provide employees with the specificskills they need to act respectfully and to intervene when theyobserve disrespectful or abusive behavior.”

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The report adds that private employers and state and governmentagencies can find more information on the training program on theEEOC Training Institute website, by contactingthe nearest Outreach and Education Coordinator or bycontacting program analyst Michelle Crew at [email protected].There also is a Q&A available online for employers.

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