- Employees of Bloomberg LP will need to complete a sexual harassment prevention training course focused on bystander intervention by April 3, 2020, a company spokesperson confirmed to HR Dive in an email.
- In a Feb. 28 LinkedIn post, Bloomberg LP head of HR Ken Cooper said the mandatory prevention training, "Bringing in the Bystander," had previously been offered to employees as an optional training since June 2019.
- "Bloomberg has long had a zero tolerance policy when it comes to harassment and discrimination and we've offered comprehensive anti-harassment training for more than twenty years," Cooper wrote.
Harassment prevention in the workplace continues to be a prominent conversation in the aftermath of the #MeToo movement.
In the past three years, state and local governments passed sexual harassment training laws, some of which include more specific requirements for employers to meet. In New York City, for example, employers with 15 or more employees must provide such training within 90 days of an employee's hiring. The training must include instruction on bystander intervention.
Bloomberg LP founder and former presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg was criticized during the Feb. 19 Democractic presidential debate by fellow former candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., for his company's use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), including in cases where female employees reported inappropriate or discriminatory language used by Bloomberg himself. Bloomberg announced Feb. 21 that Bloomberg LP would no longer offer confidentiality agreements to resolve claims of sexual harassment or misconduct.
In a statement emailed to HR Dive, the Bloomberg LP spokesperson said the bystander training announcement "is not a reaction to recent news events." "The role of the bystander has been covered in [the company's training] for some time but the new program is a more comprehensive, stand-alone module that was developed based on research and made mandatory last week," the spokesperson said.
NDAs are one of many legal provisions targeted by employers, legislators and activists. Bloomberg LP's announcement follows the elimination of similar NDAs at companies including Uber, which announced in 2018 that drivers, riders and employees who bring individual claims of sex harassment or assault would not be forced to sign an NDA.
NDAs are often used to protect proprietary information, sources previously told HR Dive, but they can also present trouble for an employer if used to hide bad behavior — like harassment — that the company fails to correct. Fifteen percent of tech industry employees who were surveyed by tech platform Blind in 2018 said that their employers' use of NDAs had "silenced me or my coworker(s) from speaking up about important issues." Meanwhile, several state governments, including Arizona, Maryland, New York and Tennessee, have adopted laws around NDAs and other policies and employment contract provisions.
Mandatory arbitration agreements are another area of focus for employers. In February, Wells Fargo announced that it would end mandatory arbitration for employees in connection with any future sexual harassment claims, following the lead of companies like Google and Facebook.