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CA Sexual Harassment Law Changing January 1, 2020

employees in an office, training for sexual harassment and abusive conduct.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act protects employees from unlawful practices and harassment. Since 2005, the act required employers with at least 50 employees to provide at least 2 hours of training and education regarding sexual harassment and abusive conduct. With the rise of the #MeToo movement in 2018, Senator Holly Mitchell proposed bill 1343, requiring that all employers with 5 or more employees provide training and education. This bill’s purpose was to prevent harassment and abusive behavior in any size business altogether. Since bill 1343’s passing, employers are required to provide sexual harassment and abusive conduct training by January 1, 2020. Here’s everything you need to know:

What are the training requirements?

All employers who have 5 or more employees must provide sexual harassment training. After the initial training, employers must repeat this process every two years. Employers must provide 2 hours of training to managerial employees and 1 hour of training to non-managerial employees.

There is no requirement that an employer’s 5 employees or contractors work at the same location or that all work or reside in California. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing, defines an “employee” as any full-time, part-time, and temporary employees. 

What date must employees complete training?

Both non-managerial and managerial employees must receive training by January 1st, 2020. After Jan 1 2020, employees must be retrained once every 2 years.  However, please note that your employees must be trained in 2019. If they were trained in 2018 or any year prior, they must repeat training again during the 2019 calendar year. 

What type of sexual harassment training can employers provide?

Employers can provide training in a classroom setting, through E-learning, or through a live webinar. If you decide to use the E-learning method, training must provide the trainer’s contact information. 

The Department of Fair Employment (DFEH) and Housing developed two online training courses. This training also provides brochures, posters, and guides that should be distributed. 

Who can provide sexual harassment prevention training?

  • Attorneys who have been members or the bar of any state for at least 2 years. Their practice must include employment law under the Fair Employment and Housing Act or Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Human Resource professionals or harassment prevention consultants. They must have experience in one of these subjects:
    • Designing or conducting training on discrimination, retaliation, and sexual harassment prevention.
    • Responding to sexual harassment or other discrimination complaints.
    • Investigating sexual harassment complaints.
    • Advising employers or employees about discrimination, retaliation, and sexual harassment prevention.
  • Lastly, any Law school, college, or university instructors with a postgraduate degree or California teaching credential and either 20 hours of instruction about employment law under the FEHA or Title VII.

What should training explain?

According to the DFEH, any training must explain:

  • The definition of sexual harassment under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
  • The statutes and case-law prohibiting and preventing sexual harassment.
  • Different types of conduct to be considered sexual harassment.
  • Available remedies for victims of harassment.
  • Examples of harassment and how to prevent it from happening.
  • Supervisors’ obligation to report sexual harassment.
  • Confidentiality of the complaint process.
  • Resources for victims of sexual harassment, including where and whom they should report.
  • How employees must correct harassing behavior.
  • What to do if a supervisor is accused of harassment.
  • How to create an effective anti-harassment policy.
  • “Abusive conduct” under Government Code section 12950.1, subdivision (g)(2).
  • Harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
  • Questions that assess learning, skill-building activities to assess understanding and application of content, and hypothetical scenarios about harassment with discussion questions.

Who pays for sexual harassment training?

According to Government Code 12950.1, the employer pays for any training and must train employees on company time

What happens if a business doesn’t train employees in time?

If the DFEH finds that an employer has violated the law, they will work with that employer to obtain compliance with the law. 

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