MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Two-thirds of the University of Minnesota’s senior leadership team has completed sexual harassment prevention training. The man at the top has not.
Through a documents request, Fox 9 has learned Eric Kaler, the president of the University of Minnesota, has not yet completed sexual harassment prevention training. The request for documents was made after the University’s athletic director, Norwood Teague, resigned following allegations he sexually harassed multiple women. While Kaler has not participated in the training, Teague did.
“That does surprise me quite bit, because the way to lead is by example. If you want folks to take harassment as a serious issue, you personally have to take harassment as a serious issue,’ said Sheila Engelmeier, an employment attorney at Engelmeier and Umanah.
Engelmeier has provided harassment prevention training to small and large organizations for two decades, and believes the best way to prevent harassment is through training and education — including top leaders.
“If you're trying to genuinely lead, you have to do what you want others to do. You have to be a good example. And that means not discriminating, not harassing, and encouraging others to follow your lead. And it certainly starts with being out there in the front and center on training avoiding harassment and discrimination.,” Engelmeier said.
Additionally, Engelmeier thinks more training could help the University defend itself from lawsuits.
“Starting in 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court specifically said to employers, if you want to have a defense to a harassment claim, you must effectively train, she said. “Engagement of senior leadership is a key component to what is effective training.”
In a statement to Fox 9, a University spokesperson said:
"The University offers voluntary training at various times throughout the year, and in multiple formats, with the option for departments to go through the training as a group. With the recent events at a Senior Leader retreat and the national discourse in mind, the senior leader team felt strongly it would be good to go through training as a group. That training is scheduled for mid-October."
Kaler and the senior leadership team will go through training as a group in Otober. While two-thirds of the team has completed training, only one-third has done so in the last three years.
Beth Goetz, the interim athletic director who replaced Teague, has gone through training.