UO Rolling Out Online Harassment Prevention Program

The UO plans to introduce mandatory, online workplace harassment prevention training for its faculty, staff and GTFs in the next week. The two-part training includes a section by United Educators, the UO’s insurance company for issues of harassment and discrimination cases, and training developed by UO itself. It includes comprehension exercises interspersed in both parts.

At the UO’s Sept. 16 department heads’ retreat, Vice President for Finance and Administration Jamie Moffitt reported that the training is necessary to meet federal requirements, and United Educators wants UO to use its training.

Director of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Penny Daugherty says the university will continue to offer in-person harassment prevention training, but the online version will make it possible to reach all UO employees. She says that legal and financial issues regarding workplace harassment aren’t the most important reasons to train all the staff. “While, yes, we have legal obligations around that, I would submit to you that even if we didn’t have the particular legal obligations that we do, we would have an imperative in terms of being an effective and forward-looking and cutting-edge institution for learning and for advancing the boundaries of knowledge.”

Employees will be required to complete the training by March 1, 2014. Daugherty says that her office will inform supervisors of anyone who hasn’t complied, and while there is no set penalty for refusing to participate, taking the training is a performance issue. She says she expects that everyone taking the training will be given the option to complete the training on work time, so adjuncts and GTFs will be paid to take it.

Cheyney Ryan, a law professor who has been advocating for better sexual harassment prevention training for decades, says that the breadth of UO’s training will still fall short. “The problem is that they haven’t made any movement on educating undergraduates,” he says. “They need to educate the people who are likely to be subjected to it. And they should have done it 20 years ago.”