UI staff required to complete module on discrimination
In order to sustain a safe and positive living environment in the Moscow community, University of Idaho President Chuck Staben has required all university employees to complete a training module about how to respond to situations of discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
The requirement is for faculty, staff, temporary and paid students and must be completed by March 31, 2015, to be eligible for a potential 2015 merit pay increase.
“For employees that are eligible for a merit pay increase with the next salary cycle, which goes into effect at the end of June 2015, if they don’t take it, they will not be eligible for a merit pay increase,” said Greg Walters, executive director of Human Resources.
UI Human Rights and Inclusion Office and Human Resources are working together to ensure staff members know of the new requirement. UI Director of Professional Development and Learning Elissa Keim said the program is the first of several modules to be unveiled over the next 18-24 months.
“This particular module deals with discrimination, sexual harassment in Title IX reporting, which was identified by our institution as being high-priority, to be educating all of our employees and it puts us in line with other peer institutions,” Keim said.
The training program, called “Our Inclusive Workplace: Discrimination and Harassment Prevention for University of Idaho Employees,” is an overview of discrimination and common equal opportunity laws employees at UI should be aware of, Keim said. It will also cover sexual harassment laws with regard to Title IX, on both federal and state levels.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from discrimination and unequal treatment in higher education institutions that receive federal financial assistance. The act also sets reporting standards for sexual harassment, assault and discrimination.
Keim used the example of athletics in higher education institutions in how there needs to be enough male and female sports in order for there to be equal opportunity.
“It’s just a good idea to help the institution and its members to know what their responsibilities are and to know what rights or options they have,” Walters said.
Keim said the program would allow an institution to have an affirmative defense if there were ever a complaint that ends up in court. She said the university was categorized last spring as an institution “under review” in a list from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
“It was time to make us more compliant,” Keim said.
The new discrimination and harassment prevention training program is now available online and takes about 35 minutes to complete. It provides an overview of information with attachments participants may print out. Quizzes are built into the module to confirm partakers are absorbing the material. The Human Rights and Inclusion Office said users do not have to receive a passing grade. What matters to them is that staff members are going through the material and confirming they’ve been exposed to the information.
“It’s like we said at the beginning, (the module) is either required or very strongly encouraged from a variety of legislative bodies, but it’s just a good idea to help people understand their rights, especially for supervisors to what they’re supposed to do if they hear of or get a complaint of sexual harassment or discrimination or anything along those lines,” Walters said.
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