The Metro government has expanded its required training on sexual harassment prevention to apply to many of the private companies that win city contracts.
While city employees and elected officials already go through harassment training, some on the Metro Council were bothered to learn that contractors — some whom represent the city or work closely alongside Metro employees — weren’t being held to the same standard.
The final straw for Councilwoman Angie Henderson was a case in which the city investigated behavior by a man employed by a prominent contractor.
“What was recommended for this person, who was alleged to have harassed a Metro employee, was that he go through sexual harassment training,” Henderson said. “That frustrated me. … It seemed like at a minimum, that was something we could require so hopefully something like this would not happen again in the future.”
She helped pass the new requirement this month.
It applies to companies that have contracts worth at least $500,000 or that last for a minimum of a year. The specific employees who would need to be trained are those who either have direct contact with Metro employees, who interact with the public in a way that represents Metro or who work on Metro property.
How many workers this includes isn’t clear, because Metro Finance says it is still preparing an estimate based on city contracts.
Enforcing the rule could be spotty. It was decided that Metro can’t afford to do the training in-house, so it will be up to employers to provide training and send the city an affidavit that guarantees it was completed.
Despite that limitation, the bill’s co-sponsor, Councilwoman Kathleen Murphy, told the council that the national atmosphere around harassment demands that they take a stand.
“No employee should ever feel bullied, harassed, uncomfortable in their work environment,” she said. “It’s actually sad that we have to train people to act nice.”