CSU complies with harassment training law on the web

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California State University employees in supervisory positions will be required by recently passed state law to complete two hours of mandatory sexual harassment training before Dec. 31.

Although the CSU has its own policy for training, AB 1825 requires specific guidelines in order for employees to qualify by law as being sufficiently trained. These guidelines mandate the content and the length of the training, and the training must be completed every two years.

In accordance with AB 1825, passed in 2004, the CSU chose an online training program provided by the Workplace Answers company to fulfill training requirements.

To date, about 12,000 employees have logged on to take the training course within the CSU.

“CSU chose online training because it was the best method to accommodate everyone,” said Lynne Hellmer, senior director of systemwide professional development for the CSU.

All necessary employees received an e-mail from Workplace Answers with an access code to the training program, which they can use to log on from any computer.

According to Hellmer, even if employees do not have jobs with computer access, some schools are providing computer labs for their employees.

Although the law does not require online training, it does require the training to be “interactive.”

After looking through many different options, CSU chose Workplace Answers because it was the most engaging, Hellmer said.

She said the training does not incorporate real cases; however, they closely relate to typical campus situations.

“The training includes the twists and turns in everyday life,” Hellmer said.

The program also includes a time tracker, which ensures that supervisors are taking the full two hours for the training. The program will indicate a person’s speed and prompt him or her to either slow down or speed up accordingly before finishing the 205 pages, said Sofia Vegas, employee relations assistant at CSUN.

Robert Foldesi, assistant vice president of Human Resources at CSUN, said he has taken different kinds of sexual harassment training and has taught his own classes on the subject at other schools.

“Online training is the most effective,” he said.

The CSU also chose online training is because of the cost and time it would take to organize classrooms’ training with teachers.

It would be a difficult task to get everyone together for in-person training, said Maria Santos, senior director of Employee Relations at the CSU.

Santos worked closely with Hellmer and advised her on the content of the training. She said she agrees that utilizing online training provides flexibility.

Employees are able to go through the training as long as they need to, and if they exit the program they can start back where they left off, she said.

The CSU sent out informal notices in Spring 2005 regarding the training, and sent out the formal notices to all CSUs by October.

To ensure that the university is in compliance with state law, the president of each CSU assigns someone to manage the project, Hellmer said.

Vegas sends weekly reports to each department, informing them of the number of people who have taken to the training to make sure it is done by the December deadline.

The subject matter may be uncomfortable for some in a classroom setting, she said, and with online training the supervisors are able to sit at home and complete the workshop on their own time.

According to a report sent to the CSU, as of Nov. 17, 68 percent of the 12,000 employees assigned to complete the online training have begun. Thirty-seven percent have already completed the training, the report said.

Of the 682 supervisors at CSUN, 72 percent started the training, according to Foldesi.

“We expect 100 percent completion before the deadline,” Foldesi said.

Melanie Saxe can be reached at melaniensaxe@csun.edu.