Harassment Prevention Training May Expand to All 22,000 City Employees

A new legislation proposed by Sup. London Breed would mandate that harassment prevention standards be raised for all employees of S.F., not just managers and supervisors.

The city’s 22,000 employees may soon have an extra item on their to-do list: annual, mandatory anti-harassment training. 

Board of Supervisors President London Breed introduced legislation Tuesday which would expand upon current standards — in which only supervisors, managers, and other city employees in leadership roles have to undergo the training. By making the training a requirement for everyone receiving a city government paycheck, Breed hopes to challenge the status quo and bring more transparency to the workplace.

It’s not unwarranted: the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that harassment in the workplace, particularly sexual harassment, is a persistent problem, despite the waves made by the #MeToo movement in the past year. Studies show that up to 70 percent of people who experience harassment in the workplace never discuss it with a supervisor or file a complaint.

“San Francisco has long been at the forefront of advancing employee protections, and we must continue to lead by example,” Breed said in a statement. “It is all of our collective responsibility to prevent, recognize, report, and root out workplace harassment. By expanding our harassment training requirements to cover all city employees and increasing transparency and accountability in reporting these claims, we will be making it clear: no city employee should ever be subjected to harassment, retaliation, or fear speaking up.”

If passed, city employees would be required to undergo not just harassment prevention training, but also “bystander training,” which helps inform people on what steps to take if they witness an incident at work.

The legislation has so far won the support of both the Department on the Status of Women and the Commission on the Status of Women. It will be brought before the full Board of Supervisors in the coming weeks.


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