Sexual harassment has always been a source of concern for employees in the workplace, but at the start of 2019 California greatly expanded its harassment training and prevention requirements. The old mandate was that any company with a number of employers greatly than 50 was required to perform training – now the number has changed so that any business with 5 employees or more must comply with training obligations. Additionally, supervisors must receive two hours of additional sexual harassment training and general employees must receive half that amount. According to the new requirement, training must be performed within six month of hire or promotion and subsequently every two years after.
Liability for harassment suits has also changed in the State of California and federally – as an employer your liability may be extended to acts committed by both supervisors and general employees. Sexual harassment training in California is not only a requirement but a necessary precaution taken to reduce risk of legal action. Employers must take the measures to perform workplace harassment prevention with the utmost importance not only as a means to improving workplace culture and morale, but as a first step to preventing legal risks associated with sexual harassment suits. California has some of the most progressively led state mandates regarding sexual harassment for private sector employees and very few states compare when it comes to the initiative taken to prevent workplace harassment.
On a federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 rules that sexual harassment is illegal in the workplace. In California, the California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) was passed as an additional measure to mitigate discrimination. In 2005, California’s AB 1825 changed requirements again and mandated that certain employers must perform mandatory action items and require sexual harassment training.
In 2015 on January 1st, amendment AB 2053 required all California employers that fell under the AB 1825 mandate to include a component that worked to prevent abusive conduct.
In 2016 on April 1st FEHA adapted regulations to clarify and expand potential employer actions, protections, and training requirements.
In 2018 on January 1st SB 396 worked to expand required training as it related to supervisors in order to curtail sexual harassment that included gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
SB 1343 ratified FEHA regulations once more to include businesses with five or more employees as opposed to the previous 25. Sexual harassment prevention training is now required to be administered to all workers by January 1st, 2020, and every two years afterwards. SB 778 extended the deadline to Jan. 1, 2021.
Sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual conduct include but not limited to physical and verbal action. The two have very different liability implications so it’s important to understand their differences. As mentioned, Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964 makes sexual harassment forbidden under federal law. The scope of federal law includes less stringent requirements than California, as California has passed legislation specific to its workplace environments. Under federal juridstiction a company that has employed more than 15 employees for each working day in 20 or more calendar weeks within the year is required to organize adequate training. On a state level, sexual harassment is illegal under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and protections extend to applicants, employees, interns, professionals, and contractors. Record keeping is extremely important as the laws themselves are enforced by DFEH under the FEHA
Records that you should keep on hand are:
We’re a little bit different than your cut and dry workforce training company – we prefer to engage directly with employees through common understanding and humor. Even though our training takes a less formal attitude, we still comply with state regulation while remaining entertaining and engaging. Our approach is to inform rather than warn, demonstrate rather than lecture, and engage attendees directly through question and answer in person or through e-learning. Find out more about our unique training HERE.
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