Opinions and Legal Insights

California’s Deadline is Fast Approaching: Employers Must Complete Harassment Prevention Training for English and Spanish-Speaking Workforces by Year’s End

Since 2005, California employers with 50 or more employees were required to provide at least 2 hours of sexual harassment training every 2 years to each supervisory employee, and to new supervisory employees within 6 months of their assumption of a supervisory position.  However, all employers may not yet know that the California anti-harassment training requirements were significantly expanded by the California legislature (SB 1343 and SB 788 – to read the prior article, click here).  Now, California employers with 5 or more employees must provide sexual harassment training and education by January 1, 2021 to not just supervisory employees, but non-supervisory employees as well. This new law requires many California employers to provide anti-harassment training, for the first time, in both English and Spanish. Specifically,

  • The new law requires covered employers with 5 or more employees, including temporary or seasonable employees, to provide at least 2 hours of sexual harassment training to all supervisors and at least 1 hour of sexual harassment training to all nonsupervisory employees by January 1, 2021, and every 2 years thereafter.
  • It requires that new nonsupervisory employees be provided sexual harassment training within 6 months of hire.
  • It requires that new supervisory employees be provided sexual harassment training within 6 months of the assumption of a supervisory position.
  • It clarifies that an employer who has provided this training and education in 2019 is not required to provide it again until 2 years thereafter.

Employers should be aware that both SB 1343 and SB 778 contain specific training requirements of which all employers should be aware when crafting anti-harassment training policies:

  • Training may be completed by employees individually or as part of a group presentation, and may be completed in shorter segments, as long as the applicable hourly total requirement is met.  During the pandemic, virtual programs conducted by an employment attorney are often the preferred training method.
  • The training and education required must include information and practical guidance regarding the federal and state statutory provisions concerning the prohibition against and the prevention and correction of sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment in employment.
  • The training and education must include practical examples aimed at instructing supervisors in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, and must be presented by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.
  • To comply, the subject matter of the training must not just be limited to sexual harassment prevention training. Training provided must be inclusive of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
  • These laws set a minimum threshold for training.  Employers can choose to provide longer, more frequent or elaborate training and education.

With the holidays fast approaching, all California employers who are not yet in compliance should take immediate steps to schedule and complete (virtually or in-person, where appropriate) the required anti-harassment training program(s) for their employees.  For information about customized training programs in both English and Spanish, please contact the author or your Sheppard Mullin employment lawyer.