Sexual harassment training has become a key component of anti-harassment laws, as legislators seek to strengthen sexual harassment prevention requirements for employers in the #MeToo era. A new law in California, Senate Bill 1343, will affect organizations of all sizes by requiring that employers with five or more employees provide interactive sexual harassment training to all employees – including supervisors and nonsupervisory employees – by January 1, 2021. This represents a big change to the current law requiring California employers with 50 or more workers to provide comprehensive sexual harassment training and education.
SB 1343 is among a wide-ranging set of laws affecting California employers that Governor Jerry Brown signed on September 30, in his final legislative session. Another new law, SB 820, bans the use of secret settlements (nondisclosure agreements) that prevent disclosing information related to sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, sexual harassment and sex discrimination. This measure takes effect on January 1, 2019, and applies to both private and public employers in California, including the California State Legislature.
Here are takeaways to help employers comply with California’s new sexual harassment training requirements:
- By January 1, 2021, employers in California with five or more employees must provide two hours of interactive sexual harassment training to all supervisory employees, and at least one hour of sexual harassment training to all nonsupervisory employees. Thereafter, employees must be retrained every two years.
- Employees who were trained in 2019 are not required to be retrained until two years thereafter.
- New employees must trained within six months of hire. Employees promoted to supervisory positions must be trained within six months of their promotion.
- Temporary and seasonal employees must complete sexual harassment training within 30 calendar days or 100 hours, if they will work less than six months.
- Training should include information and practical guidance on the federal and state laws concerning the prevention and correction of sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of workplace sexual harassment.
- Training should use practical examples to instruct supervisors on how to recognize and prevent harassment, discrimination and retaliation. Training should also cover preventing harassment based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.
- Effective interactive training can be conducted in-person, through e-Learning courses or a webinar, as long as employees are active participants.
- Organizations may develop or implement their own training programs and materials, as long as they comply with the law’s requirements and models developed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
With California and New York at the forefront, lawmakers throughout the US are strengthening sexual harassment prevention laws and training requirements in response to the #MeToo movement. Employers in California should take steps now to provide interactive sexual harassment training to all supervisors and nonsupervisory employees by January 1, 2021.
The process of reviewing your sexual harassment training program can ensure that your training is up to date with the law’s new requirements for content. It also provides an opportunity to adopt new eLearning technologies and strategies to create a more engaging and meaningful training experience for employees on this critical workplace issue.