The need for anti-harassment training in the workplace intensified following high-profile sexual harassment cases that played out daily in the media over the past few years. This increased awareness has led to legislation being discussed both nationally and at the state level.
California is no exception. Senate Bill 1343, signed into law on September 30, 2018, requires employers with at least five employees to provide all employees with sexual harassment training. Prior to the new law, California employers with 50 or more employees were only required to provide sexual harassment training for supervisors.
Compliance Deadline Extended
When Senate Bill 1343 was introduced, the initial deadline for required employee training was January 1, 2020. The state legislature introduced a bill in August 2019 that effectively moved the deadline back one year. By January 1, 2021, all state employers with five or more employees must provide:
- At least two hours of sexual harassment training to all supervisory employees
- At least one hour of sexual harassment training to all nonsupervisory employees
Training for all new employees must be completed within six months of hiring, and supervisory training must be completed within six months of employee promotion to a position that requires management of staff.
The legislation also stipulates what constitutes training. According to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, employers must provide sexual harassment prevention training in one of three ways:
- Classroom setting
- Interactive e-learning
- Live webinar
If you opt for the e-learning option, you must provide employees – within two days of course completion – access to a trainer who can answer any questions. Regardless of which option you choose, the offering must include the following information:
- sexual harassment definition as defined by federal and state legislation
- statutes and case-law prohibiting and preventing sexual harassment
- conduct considered to be sexual harassment
- options for victims to report sexual harassment
- strategies to prevent sexual harassment
- obligation of supervisors to report harassment
- examples of harassment
- limited confidentiality of the complaint process
- resources for victims, including the reporting process at your company
- how employers must correct harassing behavior
- what to do if a supervisor is accused of harassment
- elements of an effective anti-harassment policy and how to use it
- “abusive conduct” under Government Code section 12950.1, subdivision (g)(2)
- discussions surrounding harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, which shall include practical examples inclusive of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
All training must include questions that assess learning, skill-building activities to assess understanding and application of content, and hypothetical scenarios about harassment with discussion questions. The more engaging the training is, the more effective it will be.
[Smart Tip] Ongoing training is required every two years for both employees and supervisors.
Who is Considered a Qualified Sexual Harassment Trainer?
- Attorneys from any state who practice employment law
- Human resource professionals or harassment prevention consultants with at least two years of practical experience sexual harassment prevention
- Instructors with a post-graduate degree or California teaching credential and either 20 hours of instruction about employment law under the FEHA or Title VII