NEW LAW: New Sexual Harassment Training Requirements For California Employers

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed Senate Bill 1343 into law.  This new law makes several significant changes to California’s sexual harassment training requirements.

#1 Applies to more employers (and more employees too)

The most impactful change to the sexual harassment training requirements is that the requirement has been extended to smaller employers and to all employees.

Under the new law, California employers with five or more employees are required to provide sexual harassment training.  This training must be provided to both nonsupervisory and supervisory employees (including all temporary and/or seasonal employees) as follows:

  • Existing Nonsupervisory Employees: At least 1 hour of sexual harassment training by January 1, 2020.  Thereafter, sexual harassment training must be provided once every two years.
  • Nonsupervisory Employees hired after January 1, 2020: At least 1 hour of sexual harassment training within 6 months of the employee’s hire date.  Thereafter, sexual harassment training must be provided once every two years.
  • Temporary or Seasonal Employees: At least 1 hour of sexual harassment training within 30 calendar days after the hire date or within 100 hours worked if the employee will work for less than six months.
    • NOTE: If the employee is employed by a temporary services employer, the training must be provided by the temporary services employer, not the client.
  • Existing Supervisory Employees: At least two hours of sexual harassment training must be provided by January 1, 2020.  Thereafter, sexual harassment training must be provided once every two years.
    • NOTE: For employers who employ 50+ employees (i.e. those who were previously required to provide sexual harassment training to their supervisory employees), they are not required to comply with the January 1, 2020 training deadline.  Instead, they are still required to provide sexual harassment training to supervisory employees every two years.
  • Supervisory Employees hired after January 1, 2020: At least 2 hours of sexual harassment training within 6 months of the employee’s hire date.  Thereafter, sexual harassment training must be provided once every two years.

#2 DFEH Must Develop Online Training Program

Under the new law, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is also required to develop two online training courses (one for supervisory employees and one for non-supervisory employees) and make them available on the DFEH website at no cost to the employer.  The programs must be interactive and include questions that a viewer is required to answer before he/she can continue the program.  Finally, the programs must be available in a variety of languages including English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Korean.

Employers are not going to be required to use these DFEH-developed training programs.

#3 What about the training program content?

It is important to note that the required content for the sexual harassment training programs has not changed.  This means that under existing (and the new law), the training programs for all employees must contain the following elements:

  • Information and practical guidance regarding the federal and state statutory provisions concerning the prohibition against and the prevention and correction of sexual harassment
  • Information and practical guidance regarding the federal and state statutory provisions concerning the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment in employment.
  • Practical examples aimed at instructing employees in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation,
  • Information regarding abusive conduct (i.e. Bullying) and
  • Information regarding harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.

Also, the training must be presented by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

Take Home For Employers

All California employers must take steps to ensure that they provide the newly required sexual harassment training to all employees.