So what’s not to like about sex harassment training? How else could employees get to spend a couple of hours talking about dirty jokes, smutty screen savers and how to distinguish permissible from impermissible hugs at work? How else could employers get to claim, if sued for harassment, that they did their best to prevent it? And how else could lawyers and human resources consultants get to make such tidy sums, generally between $1,500 to $3,000 a day, for talking about sex at work? When harassment training offers a little something for everyone, isn’t it churlish to complain?
Not exactly. Recent experience with California’s new state law requiring harassment training for supervisors raises legitimate grounds for concern. Skepticism comes from even normally sympathetic commentators, myself included. As a law professor who focuses on gender bias, I am obviously a believer in education about the problem. But it’s possible to support training programs in principle while questioning their effectiveness in practice. And there is much not to like about current approaches.