April 12, 2019

California sexual harassment training laws now in place

California and New York may be on opposite coasts, but one thing they have in common is new anti-harassment laws that may require organizations to revamp their sexual harassment training programs. In a recent post we outlined the requirements and deadlines for employers in New York State and New York City. In this post, we’ll recap what California employers need to do to comply with the state’s new sexual harassment training requirements by January 1, 2021.

California has required employers to conduct sexual harassment training since 2005, however, the law only applied to organizations with 50 or more employees, and they only had to train supervisors.  That changed in October 2018, when California passed Senate Bill 1343, requiring employers with five or more employees to provide interactive sexual harassment training to all employees – before the ball drops on January 1, 2021 – and then retrain every two years.

Traliant’s California Edition of Preventing Discrimination and Harassment meets the SB 1343 training requirements and more.

Further, SB 1343 requires that supervisory employees receive at least two hours of interactive sexual harassment training and nonsupervisory employees receive one hour of training. Seasonal and temporary employees must receive training, too – one hour of training within 30 calendar days or 100 hours, if they work less than six months.

Employers must also provide additional training to employees within six months of their promotion to a supervisory position. Who is considered a supervisor? The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) defines supervisor as “anyone with authority to hire, fire, assign, transfer, discipline or reward other employees. 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.”  

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Training Format and Content
The DFEH says employers can provide sexual harassment prevention training through interactive eLearning courses, in a classroom setting or through a live webinar. Regardless of the format, the training should cover a range of topics, including:

  • A definition of sexual harassment under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA),  and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Types of conduct that constitute sexual harassment.
  • Strategies to prevent sexual harassment.
  • Remedies and resources available to targets of sexual harassment, including to whom they should report the misconduct.
  • Practical examples to help supervisors recognize and prevent harassment, discrimination and retaliation.  
  • A discussion of harassment (and examples) based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.
  • Supervisors’ obligation to report harassment.
  • The obligation of employers to correct harassing behavior.
  • The limited confidentiality of the complaint process.
  • Guidance for supervisors who have been personally accused of harassment.
  • Abusive conduct

Traliant Insight
New or expanded anti-harassment legislation in California, New York, New York City, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont and other states and cities is keeping #MeToo top of mind for employers and driving changes in how, who and how often they train employees on sexual harassment prevention. California organizations with five or more employees should be taking steps now to ensure their sexual harassment training programs meets the state’s new requirements, while providing a learning experience for employees that is interactive, relevant to their workplace and promotes positive behavior and a safe, respectful culture.