New Requirements for California Sexual Harassment Training

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Sexual harassment and assault headline in the news every day. The Me Too movement fueled organizations to address and train employees to understand what sexual harassment is and how to prevent it from happening in the workplace.

The problem lies in developing and delivering training when companies are not sure how to proceed. California began leading the way in late 2018 by requiring mandatory sexual harassment training for everyone. A previous law existed since 2005, covering California organizations with more than 50 employees, the training was only required for supervisors and managers.

What Is Sexual Harassment Training?

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when such conduct:

  • Explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment
  • Unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance
  • Creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment

Sexual harassment is the most common type of workplace harassment. The first step in preventing and eliminating sexual harassment involves educating all members of the workplace on sexual harassment and acceptable behaviors. Managers and supervisors must be given additional specialized training on how to properly handle cases of sexual harassment. The final step is setting up a process for when sexual harassment occurs handling complaints, investigations and corrective measures.

Who Needs To Take Sexual Harassment Training?

All members of an organization’s workplace including:

  • Employees
  • Managers
  • Supervisors
  • Contract Workers
  • Volunteers

Managers and supervisors must be given additional specialized training on how to properly train employees, prevent an assault and handle cases of sexual harassment. KnowledgeCity’s interactive course for managers and supervisors is designed to help your organization be responsible and in compliance with state and federal law. You will learn the best practices for informing, preventing and handing sexual harassment in the workplace.

Who Needs To Comply With Sexual Harassment Training?

The law itself, SB 1343, requires companies with five or more employees to provide sexual harassment prevention training and education to all workers, whether supervisors, managers or employees, by January 1, 2020. Other requirements include:

  • Training must be provided every two years
  • Supervisory employees must have two hours of training every two years
  • Non-supervisory employees must have one hour of training every two years
  • Training must be completed within six months of hire or placement into the position
  • Seasonal/temporary employees must have training within 30 days of hire or 100 hours worked
  • Training should be provided by the service employer, not the client

Are you interested in learning more about promoting appropriate workplace behavior and creating and inclusive and safe workplace culture? KnowledgeCity’s training course for employees is designed to help you understand and identify sexual harassment, your responsibilities, your employer’s responsibilities and compliance with federal and state laws. You will also learn how to filed a complaint, the complaint process and how to keep yourself safe.

What Should Be Included In The Training To Meet The Requirements Of SB 1343?

  • A component of preventing abusive conduct in the workplace
  • Definition of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation
  • Training must be interactive, taught in a classroom setting, online or another form of learning
  • Training can be completed in short segments if the required hourly total is met
  • Employers can develop their own training programs if they meet the law’s content requirements

What Is Appropriate Workplace Behavior? 

What is appropriate workplace behavior? There is appropriate employer behavior and appropriate employee behavior. The behavior you expect of your employees—and your employees expect of you—contributes to the entire company culture. It is also a key attribute to the success of the organization.

Why is behavior important in the workplace? Ensuring that all employees conduct themselves in a professional manner promotes the safety and well-being of both individuals and the entire company. When people exhibit inappropriate behavior in the workplace, everyone suffers.

In Terms Of Content, What Does The Law Require For A Sexual Harassment Training Program?

  • A clear and understandable definition of sexual harassment and misconduct. This includes inappropriate sexual, physical and verbal behaviors in the workplace like offensive language, sexual touching, and asking for sexual favors
  • Review of federal and state laws pertaining to sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is forbidden under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act protects applicants, employees, unpaid interns, professional relationships and independent contractors from sexual harassment
  • Establish consequences for infractions. These can include reprimands, demotions or even termination. If a sexual assault occurs, it can also include criminal charges
  • Discuss who is liable when a breach occurs. Supervisors, co-workers, customers and vendors can all be held liable depending on the circumstances
  • Information made available to everyone regarding how to file a complaint or make a report. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is required by law to make a poster, fact sheet and online training materials available
  • Information on the professional way to handle complaints, investigate and take corrective actions

When designing sexual harassment training to meet the new law’s requirements, consider using activities to reinforce the information and ensure all participants understand their responsibilities. A few ideas include:

  • A sexual harassment quiz to test knowledge and how to apply what has been learned to real-life situations
  • Role-playing scenarios, known as Situation-Behavior-Impact Technique. This activity can be done several times over with each group member playing a different role every time
  • Post-role-playing discussions to ascertain what was effective and what was learned

Whether you have supplied your own training, brought in outside trainers, or used Learning Management Systems (LMS) online courses, you want to make sure you are in compliance with the new law’s requirements by January 1, 2020. Take time now to review what your organization has been doing to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. Is it interactive? Up-to-date? Will it meet the new requirements for supervisors, managers and employees?

A hostile workplace not only lowers productivity, but it can also be costly in terms of legal fees, lawsuits, and a loss of reputation for your organization. Make sure you comply, not only because it is required, but also because it is the right thing to do to help your company thrive.

Next Steps

Ready to start your training? KnowledgeCity offers employee and manager and supervisor sexual harassment prevention training courses designed specifically for California. Protect your employees and your company,  jump-start your training program today.

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