California Sexual Harassment Training Requirements Expanded

With the passing of Senate Bill 1343, training requirements have changed for California businesses. California employers with 5 or more employees are now required to provide sexual harassment training to both supervisory employees as well as nonsupervisory employees. By January 1, 2020, supervisory employees must receive 2 hours of sexual harassment training and nonsupervisory employees must receive 1 hour of training. Going forward, this training must occur every two years. For all new employees, training must occur within six months of hire. For all new temporary or seasonal employees, training must occur within 30 calendar days or 100 hours worked, whichever comes first.

There are three acceptable “modes” for training: classroom, e-learning, or webinar. What is important is that the training is interactive, led by an individual with specialized knowledge on sexual harassment policy, and that employees are able to ask questions and get a timely response from the trainer. It is essential that the person leading the training have specialized knowledge and qualifications. These trainers may be an attorney, human resources professional, harassment prevention consultant, or professor. A qualified trainer is someone who has a minimum of two years of experience in one or more of the following:

·         “Designing or conducting discrimination, retaliation and sexual harassment prevention training,

·         Responding to sexual harassment complaints or other discrimination complaints,

·         Conducting investigations of sexual harassment complaints, or

·         Advising employers or employees regarding discrimination, retaliation and sexual harassment prevention.” ( §11024(a))

You should keep copies of any certificates issued to your employees after completion of sexual harassment training for two years.

There are additional steps that California employers must do to be in compliance with SB 1343. First, you must take all reasonable steps to stop and prevent harassment and discrimination. This includes “sexual harassment, gender harassment; and harassment based on pregnancy, breastfeeding, and childbirth.” If harassment does occur, it is your responsibility to take action to stop any further harassment and correct the effects immediately. It is also pertinent that you look at your existing company policies to ensure that you sufficiently cover what is sexual harassment, what is not permissible behavior, and a clear outline for a victim of sexual harassment to make a complaint. You must also clearly state your retaliation prevention policy. Employees must also be provided with an avenue to make a complaint without having to go directly to his or her supervisor (i.e., a HR manager, a complaint hotline, or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). Your policy should also instruct how your supervisors should handle a situation if it arises.

Employers must also post the California Law Prohibits Workplace Discrimination and Harassment poster. This must also be posted in an area frequented by all employees. You must also distribute The Facts about Sexual Harassment pamphlet to all employees along with an acknowledgement form. This can be done in the new hire paperwork, with an employee’s check, or on the organization’s intranet. To read the full text of SB 1343 click here.