New resolution would require all Dane County officials, interns to undergo harassment training

MADISON, Wis. - The nationwide sexual harassment epidemic is being addressed Thursday night in Dane County, with the county board set to vote on a resolution would require all employees to undergo universal training.

Currently, only full-time employees are required to undergo sexual harassment training. Government employees, part-time workers, and interns are exempt from the training, although some argue they are the most vulnerable to sexual harassment.

If the resolution passes tonight at the Dane County Board meeting, that will all change.

The resolution would require all workers to complete sexual harassment training, in the wake of sexual harassment scandals making headlines across the country.

The training involves workers undergoing a seminar on what harassment is, how to identify it in the workplace, and who to tell and where to go if you've been harassed.

County Supervisor Shelia Stubbs authored the new resolution, which she expects to pass unanimously.

"Why not? What are you afraid of?" Stubbs questioned, when asked who would oppose her resolution. "Why would you not do the training? How can you adequately address concerns from managers, from directors when the office is not saying there's an issue if you haven't had the training."

Stubbs says legislation like this is especially important to younger workers.

"I have authored language to work with our youth and our interns," Stubbs said. "Parents trust us, family members trust us, guardians trust us, school districts trust us. So I want to be in a position where they still trust me."

Stubbs says a unanimous verdict would not only help curb harassment, but all workplace discrimination.

"We have to let people know it's just unacceptable conduct in any workplace environment," Stubbs
said. "Not only sexual harassment, but any form of discrimination. We have to believe in what is necessary and what is right. It can't be gray. It's either black or white. There's no middle. You either did it or you didn't do it."

But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that enforces violations of anti-discrimination law, says there's little evidence that sexual harassment training works.

According to the EEOC's 2016 report, workplace training often doesn't work because it's "too focused on avoiding legal liability."

Dane County's resolution goes in front of the full board at Thursday's county board meeting. If passed, the funding would come from money already allocated in the budget for training.

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