Protect the Company, Protect Yourself, Protect Your Job!
Sexual Harassment Training Now Mandatory for California Employers
Assembly Bill 1825 (Government Code section 12950.1)
FACT: More than 4,000 sexual harassment cases were filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) last year.
FACT: Harassment costs the average Fortune 500 company $6.7 million per year in indirect costs alone.
What is the Purpose of the Law? AB 1825 is designed to help employers avoid conflicts that result in litigation from allegations of sexual harassment. The law requires that employers train supervisors on sexual harassment every two years. The intent of the law is to prevent sexual harassment and to assist employers in saving money.
According to the Hartford Business Journal, “Most legally sophisticated companies provide such training to all supervisory AND NON-supervisory employees. That’s the smart thing for small and large employers to do to minimize their legal exposure to [sexual harassment] claims.”
Which Employers MUST Provide the Training? All employers with 50 or more employees or those who regularly receive services of 50 or more persons pursuant to a contract must provide the training.
How Much Training Should Be Given? The FEHA makes it an unlawful practice for an employer to fail to take “all reasonable steps” necessary to prevent harassment from occurring. Employers need to provide two hours of sexual harassment training and education to all supervisory employees. The training must be provided every two years and to each new supervisory employee within six months of their assuming supervisory duties. Although two hours is required, the Law does not discourage or relieve any employer from providing for longer, more frequent, or more elaborate training and education regarding workplace harassment or other forms of unlawful discrimination in order to ensure all reasonable steps necessary to prevent and correct harassment and discrimination. In particular, employers should provide extra training that covers all the protected categories under both federal and stated anti-discrimination laws. Training which is limited exclusively to sexual harassment will be of little or no value in defense of a race, national origin, color, age or disability harassment case.
Who Qualifies as a Supervisor? While AB 1825 does not define “supervisor,” presumably, the definition contained in the FEHA will apply. A “supervisor” is any individual having the authority “to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward, or discipline other employees, or the responsibility to direct them, or to adjust their grievances, or effectively to recommend that action. . . if the exercise of that authority is not of a merely clerical nature, but requires the use of independent judgment.” (Government Code § 12926(r)).
What Must the Training Involve and Under what Setting Should Training Be Engaged?
A Classroom or any setting in which participants can be interactive is required. The training must include the following:
- Information and practical guidance on federal and state statutory provisions concerning the prohibition against and the prevention of sexual harassment.
- Information on how to correct sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.
- Practical examples to assist supervisors in preventing sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation against employees alleging or filing sexual harassment.
Who can Provide the Training? Only trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in preventing harassment, discrimination and retaliation can provide the training. It is implied in the law that trainers should be those with both a solid training and harassment prevention background.
How Should Employers Begin Training Implementation?
- Audit the organization’s current training efforts.
- Select a qualified trainer or training firm that will meet the quality standards set forth in the Law.
- Establish the training program – topics and timing. By lengthening the training program slightly, employers should be able to cover harassment prevention based on the other categories protected under federal and state law (such as race, age and disability). Covering these extra topics will help limit workplace disputes and create a stronger defense against liability or damages if litigation arises.
- Decide who needs to be trained.
- Maintain records to prove that all appropriate personnel received training. Physical evidence is mandatory.
What is Included in the Training Seminar?
- Our representative attorney will come to you. You will need to specify the location you will use for training purposes and should be sure that the number of employees attending the seminar can fit comfortably.
- Our representative attorney will provide all course materials necessary for the inter-active training seminar.
- Attendees will be asked to sign a sign-in sheet. As a professional courtesy, a copy of the sign-in sheet will be retained at our offices and the original will be returned to you. However, you should be sure to maintain records of your own! Although we will certainly assist you in the future however we can, we will not be responsible for your company’s inability to provide physical evidence of who your attendees were.
- You will have a chance to speak with the attorney conducting your training seminar prior to it so as to discuss the time and date of the seminar, its location, the topics to be covered (sexual harassment, race, age, disability) and the estimated amount of time necessary to satisfy those topics. You will need to alert all applicable employees.
- Our attorney will minimally conduct a two hour inter-active training seminar on sexual harassment in the workplace. Additional time and/or topics may accompany this seminar if requested by you, and agreed to prior to the date of your training seminar.
For more information on how Spotora & Associates can assist you with your AB 1825 solution, please contact us at (310) 556-9641 or Toll Free at (877) 4U-EZ-LEGAL.