California Employers Must Comply With New Sexual Harassment Training Law

A new California law requires all employers with five or more employees to provide their employees with sexual harassment prevention training during the calendar year of 2019. All such employers must provide this training, even if they already provided trainings during 2018 or earlier. Any employees already trained before 2019 must be re-trained. Employers must provide new training to all employees no later than January 1, 2020. After that, employers must provide the training once every two years.

Under the new law, supervisory employees must be provided with at least two hours of training, and non-supervisory employees must be provided with at least one hour. A supervisor is anyone with authority to hire, fire, assign, transfer, discipline, direct, or reward other employees or adjust their grievances. A supervisor is also anyone with the authority to effectively recommend (but not necessarily take) these actions, if exercising that authority requires the use of independent judgment.

If a new employee is hired, employers must provide all required training within six months of the new employee’s start date.  Employees hired to work for less than six months must complete the training within thirty days of hire, or within 100 hours worked, whichever is first.

The training may be provided in either 1) a classroom setting; 2) through interactive e-learning; or 3) through a live webinar. The training can only be conducted by qualified trainers.

The training must cover the following topics:

  • The definition of sexual harassment under the Fair Employment and Housing Act and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964;
  • The statutes and case-law prohibiting and preventing sexual harassment;
  • The types of conduct that can be sexual harassment;
  • The remedies available for victims of sexual harassment;
  • Strategies to prevent sexual harassment;
  • Supervisors’ obligation to report harassment;
  • Practical examples of harassment;
  • The limited confidentiality of the complaint process;
  • Resources for victims of sexual harassment, including to whom they should report it;
  • How employers must correct harassing behavior;
  • What to do if a supervisor is personally accused of harassment;
  • The elements of an effective anti-harassment policy and how to use it;
  • “Abusive conduct” under Government Code section 12950.1, subdivision (g)(2).
  • Discuss harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, which shall include practical examples inclusive of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.

The training must also include (i) questions that assess learning, (ii) skill-building activities to assess understanding and application of content, and (iii) hypothetical scenarios about harassment with discussion questions.

Our office is available to conduct trainings for Unions, and to ensure your organization is in compliance with the new requirements.  Union signatory employers must also comply with this law.  For more information, please contact your Union or Trust Fund counsel.

By Kristina Zinnen and Daniela Archila | July 10, 2019

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