The University's Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX is located in 150 Day Hall.

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The University's Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX is located in 150 Day Hall.

October 8, 2019

Cornell Rolls Out HR 202 to Address Workplace Sexual Harassment

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At the start of October, the University released a new training program required for campus employees that provides a foundation for defining and preventing workplace sexual misconduct. Newly mandated HR 202: Maintaining a Harassment-Free Workplace, a procedure designed to minimize instances of inappropriate behavior on the job.

The move is in accordance with New York State and New York City Law requiring that employees receive training regarding sexual harassment at work each year, Vice President of Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi said. The course takes approximately 30 minutes to complete and is available on the University’s online educational portal, CULearn. Available since October 1, University employees have until November 15 to complete the online course.

The measure follows from the University’s Policy 6.4, which addresses “prohibited bias, discrimination, harassment, and sexual and related misconduct” on campus. The document also includes the New York State Student Bill of Rights, information regarding alcohol and drug use, and a number of procedures for reporting applicable instances.

Vikas Reddy ’23 is a backwaiter at Taverna Banfi, the restaurant component of Statler Hotel. As a new employee this fall, he recently completed the HR 202 training.

“The first two-thirds of it was giving us guidelines, like basic definitions of what is and what isn’t harassment in the workplace,” Reddy said. The next portion of the course included a series of stories and subsequent questions about whether the behavior outlined in each story is considered sexual harassment or otherwise inappropriate workplace conduct.

The course also contained information regarding at what point employees should notify management of co-workers’ actions, using examples such as inappropriate touching or comments about appearance. “I think [the course] was pretty comprehensive,” Reddy said.

However, it is possible for employees to breeze through certain portions of the training, raising a question about the effectiveness of the remote training.

“The issue with online is that people get distracted, and people can fast forward and skip the steps and just click submit on everything … Oftentimes the people who do that are probably the people who need that training the most,” Reddy said. “I probably would rather in general have it be in person, but the online format worked better than I thought it would.”

The University’s Diversity and Inclusion division aims to monitor campus workplace cultures, a goal they work toward through the administration of various employee surveys as stated on their online site. The Office of Organizational Development and Talent Management then identifies areas for improvement, a process that can bring a breadth of problems (such as sexual misconduct) to the focus of employers.

While the effectiveness of the HR 202 training remains unknown at present, Reddy said, “It’s definitely a step in the right direction.”