ALP: Is there any specific statute in Ohio that requires my company to train managers on personnel topics such as workplace harassment or how to do performance appraisals?
Unlike some states, Ohio has no statute which specifically mandates employee training in certain areas like sexual harassment, for example. However, there are standards under OSHA which do have training requirements. In addition, courts increasingly are using the absence of training as a reason to affirm large punitive damage awards in employment discrimination cases. In a recent age-discrimination case, an Ohio jury awarded a verdict of twenty-five million dollars against a company. One basis for the award was the company’s failure to train its managers.
Your supervisors are being asked to manage employees who enjoy increasingly greater protection under various laws. Although a training program will not insulate you from lawsuits, it will make your company a less vulnerable target because trained supervisors are less likely to make mistakes. Do your managers know that a non-union employee has a right to have a co-worker attend a disciplinary meeting? that a termination in a reduction-in-force does not mean freedom from a discrimination claim? that it may be risky to access an employee’s computer without prior notice and/or permission? Effective training makes it far less likely that these kinds of issues will result in liability to your company.
Training programs are also a great retention tool. Managers, who frequently are being asked to do more with less, appreciate the investment of time and money in them which training represents.