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LEGISLATION EXPANDS SEXUAL HARASSMENT TRAINING REQUIREMENT TO COVER ALL EMPLOYEES


The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) prohibits discrimination and harassment, including the harassment of an employee based on sex or any other protected characteristic.  It also requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide at least two hours of prescribed training and education regarding sexual harassment, abusive conduct, and harassment based upon gender.  The training must be provided to all supervisory employees within six months of their assumption of a supervisory position and once every two years.

1. SB 1343

SB 1343 expands this requirement.  First, it lowers the threshold for coverage to employers who employ five or more employees, including temporary or seasonal employeesSecond, it requires at least two hours of sexual harassment training for supervisory employees and one hour for nonsupervisory employees.  This must occur by January 1, 2020, and once every two years after that.

The bill requires the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) to develop or obtain two online training courses on the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace.  The DFEH must make the courses available for streaming or downloading on its Internet Website.  Further, the DFEH must provide existing informational posters and fact sheets, as well as the online training course regarding sexual harassment prevention so that they are available to employers and members of the public.

2. Summary By The Senate

Some of the features of the bill were summarized by the Senate Rules Committee as follows:

1. It reduces the employment threshold for harassment training from 50 to five employees.

2. It expands the number of employees who are required to attend the training from supervisorial employees to all employees. The training must be provided within six months of the employee being hired and once every two years.

3. It requires that all employers provide the sexual harassment training by January 1, 2020, but does not need to be provided again if the training is provided to an employee after January 2019.

4. It provides that the training may be done with other employees, as a group or an individual, and broken up into shorter time segments as long as the two-hour requirement is reached.

5. It requires that the DFEH provide a method to employees who have completed the training to print out a certificate of completion, but neither they nor their employer is required to retain the certificate.

6. It requires the DFEH to develop and make available on its Website a two-hour online training course on the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace. The course must contain an interactive feature which requires the worker to respond to questions periodically in order for the course to continue.

7. It permits an employer to develop a two-hour training module instead of the online training course developed by the DFEH.

8. It requires that an employer provide sexual harassment training for temporary or seasonal employees within two weeks of their date of hire if they will work for less than six months.

9. It requires that the sexual harassment information sheet developed by the DFEH or the employer on sexual harassment include a link to the online training course developed by the DFEH.

10. It requires that the DFEH make the sexual harassment information sheet and online course available in English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Korean, and in any other language that is spoken by a “substantial number of non-English-speaking people,” as defined under existing law. The DFEH must provide the translated materials on its Website.  The bill requires that the online course be both dubbed and subtitled in the languages described above, with the exception of dubbing in English.

(The new training obligations and other legislative developments regarding sexual harassment are addressed in the new (17th) edition of the Sexual Harassment Training And Prevention Manual.  The new edition can be ordered from Castle Publications and will be available soon.)

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