• Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training in California
  • February 1, 2005
  • Law Firm: Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP - Los Angeles Office
  • On September 30, 2004, a new law mandating sexual harassment prevention became effective in California. Full compliance with this law is required by January 2006. California businesses with 50 or more employees must now provide supervisors with at least two hours of sexual harassment training every two years. Although the law does not state that the business with 50 employees must be within the state of California, it is likely to be interpreted as applying to California employers with 50 total employees, including those outside California. A supervisor is defined as an individual with the authority to effectively recommend: 1) hire, transfer, suspension, layoff, recall, promotion, discharge, assignment, reward, or discipline of other employees; 2) direct the work of other employees or just their grievances; or 3) effectively recommend any of these actions.

    Supervisors employed as of July 1, 2005, must receive two hours of training by January 1, 2006. Supervisors hired or promoted into a supervisory position after July 1, 2005, must complete the training within six months of the hire or promotion. Supervisors, who received training after January 1, 2003, need not be retrained until January 1, 2006. After January 1, 2006, employers must have ongoing training for all supervisors within six months of becoming supervisors, providing at least two hours of anti-harassment training every two years.

    The two hours of training must be "interactive" and conducted by professionals with knowledge and expertise in the prevention of harassment, discrimination and retaliation. An audio or video presentation alone is not sufficient. The law provides that compliance with the statute is not a defense to a sexual harassment claim and a supervisor's failure to receive the mandatory training is not grounds for establishing liability for harassment under California Fair Employment Housing Act.