What is Sexual Harassment Training?
California remains at the forefront of state-mandated sexual harassment training requirements for employers. The state’s regulations under the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) define sexual harassment as unwanted sexual advances or visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. This encompasses many forms of offensive behavior, including gender-based harassment of a person of the same sex.
Whether training is mandated or not, and whether employees are onsite or working from home, in the field or in a hybrid environment, educating employees on what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior is a cornerstone of creating a respectful, inclusive and harassment-free work environment and culture.
When measures aren’t taken to address and prevent incidents of sexual harassment, it can lead to a toxic workplace and serious consequences, including sexual harassment claims and costly settlements, damage to an organization’s brand and reputation, a decrease in customer loyalty and difficulty in recruiting and retaining top talent — a critical issue in today’s labor market. Sexual harassment prevention training can help change a toxic workplace and drive positive behaviors by encouraging individuals to speak up and take appropriate steps when they experience harassment or witness someone engaging in harassing or discriminatory conduct.
Who Needs to be Trained?
Since January 1, 2021, California employers with five (5) or more employees must train all employees and supervisors within six months of their start date, and then retrain every two (2) years. Supervisory employees must complete at least two (2) hours of classroom or other interactive training and education on sexual harassment prevention.
Nonsupervisory employees must complete at least one (1) hour of classroom or interactive training and education.
Additionally, seasonal and temporary employees or any employee hired to work less than six months must be trained within the first 30 days after their hire date or 100 hours worked, depending on which comes first.
Temporary Employees from an Agency
According to California law, temporary employees from an agency should receive sexual harassment training from the temporary agency, not the client.
How to Provide Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
California law requires effective, interactive training, which can be delivered online, live in a classroom or in a webinar. Regardless of the training method used, employees should be able to ask questions and engage with the material to gain an understanding of how to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
Different methods of training
1. Classroom training is provided in-person and led by a trainer. These sessions must be separate from an employee’s daily duties.
2. e-Learning training is computer-based and provides an individualized, interactive training experience. Online training should provide a link or set of instructions on how to contact the trainer, who should be available to answer questions, provide guidance and training assistance throughout the course. The trainer is required to keep all written questions received and any responses provided for at least two (2) years after the training.
3. Webinar training is an internet-based seminar led by a trainer in real-time. The webinar format must allow employees to ask questions and receive answers. Employers must keep a copy of the webinar, written materials used by the instructor and documentation of written responses or guidance provided by the instructor for at least two (2) years.
According to California’s sexual harassment prevention training requirements, qualified trainers can be professors, instructors, HR professionals, attorneys or harassment prevention consultants. Attorneys are required to have been admitted to practice in any jurisdiction in the US for a minimum of two (2) years and have employment law issues related to California’s DFEH or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a part of their work.
Employers can choose to retrain supervisors individually on their two-year training date or designate a training year during which all supervisors are retrained. No supervisor should go more than two (2) years between sexual harassment training.
Sexual Harassment Training Recordkeeping Requirements
It’s required that employers keep sexual harassment prevention training records for a minimum of two (2) years. These records include:
- Dates of training
- Names of trainers and training providers
- Names of attendees
- Type of training
- Sign-in sheet
- Copies of written training materials, such as handouts, quizzes or exercises.
- Copies of recorded training materials, such as videos or webinars used throughout e-Learning.
- Copies of written questions received and all written answers or guidance provided during the training session.
- Copies of certificates of attendance or completion or other relevant accolades.
If you’re a California employer, you likely have questions about meeting the sexual harassment training requirements under SB 1343 and SB 778. To help you keep track of what you need to do and when, we put together a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
Sexual Harassment Training FAQs
Q1. What are SB 1343 and SB 778?
2021. Enacted in 2018, California Senate Bill 1343 requires training California employers with five (5) or more employees to provide interactive sexual harassment training and education to both supervisors and nonsupervisory staff by January 1, 2021 (as amended by SB 778). SB 1343 represents a big change in scope from AB 1825, which only applied to employers with 50 or more workers and required them to train only supervisors, not all employees.
Q2. Are there different requirements for employees and supervisors?
A. Yes, the law requires that employers provide two (2) hours of classroom or other interactive training for supervisory employees and one (1) hour of training for nonsupervisory employees. Employees who are promoted to a supervisory position must receive additional training within six months of their promotion.
Q3. How often must organizations provide sexual harassment training?
A. After completing the initial training, employees must be retrained every two years.
Q4. What if I have new hires?
A. All new employees, both supervisory and nonsupervisory staff must be provided training within six months of hire. Additionally, employees who are promoted to a supervisory position must receive additional training within six months of their promotion.
Q5. Do temporary employees need training?
A. Yes. Seasonal and temporary – or any employee hired to work for less than six months – must receive training within 30 calendar days after the hire date or within 100 hours worked, whichever occurs first.
Q6. What if employees were trained in 2019?
A. An employer who has provided training and education to an employee in 2019 is not required to provide refresher training and education again until two years thereafter.
Q7. What form can the training take?
A. According to the DFEH, employers must provide sexual harassment prevention training in a classroom setting, through interactive eLearning courses or in a live webinar.
Q8. What must the training cover?
A. Training must cover a wide range of topics, including a definition of sexual harassment under federal and state law – California’s FEHA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; different types of conduct; strategies to prevent sexual harassment; remedies and resources available to targets and survivors of sexual harassment, including to whom they should report it; and practical examples to help supervisors recognize and prevent harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
In addition, the training must explain abusive conduct in the workplace and harassment based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. Training must also discuss supervisors’ obligation to report harassment and the limited confidentiality of the complaint process. Further, the training must include questions and activities that assess learning and build skills and hypothetical scenarios about harassment with discussion questions.
Q9. Do I need to keep records of the training?
A. To track compliance, employers must keep training documentation for a minimum of two (2) years.
What are some of the advantages of interactive, online sexual harassment training?
A. Innovations in eLearning, video production, and LMS technology are making online sexual harassment training more effective with employees and more efficient for Human Resources and training departments. With the right blend of relevant content, interactivity and high-quality videos and other design elements, online training can engage employees in fresh ways that raise awareness of sexual harassment, promote positive behavior and help foster a respectful, inclusive workplace culture.
Traliant’s award-winning online Preventing Discrimination and Harassment training for California employees and supervisors meets all the training requirements under SB 1343 and more. Employees are motivated to actively participate in the course through bite-sized episodes, realistic video scenarios and interactive quizzes and assessments with engagement points. The training is available in versions tailored for offices, restaurants, hotels, healthcare, retail, construction and manufacturing/industrial organizations, and can easily be customized with a company’s logo, policies, reporting procedures and CEO message. There’s also an instructor-led classroom training program for employers who want to combine both online and classroom training.