In 2004, California enacted AB 1825, which requires California employers with 50 or more employees to provide a bi-annual, interactive anti-sexual harassment training to California supervisors which covers several enumerated topics.
Effective January 1, 2015, AB 2053 adds an additional training topic to the two-hour anti-harassment training requirement for supervisors, requiring the training to now also include prevention of “abusive conduct” in the workplace, i.e., anti-bullying.
The new law defines “abusive conduct” as “conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests.” It can include “repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance.”
AB 2053 leaves some questions unanswered. For example, it does not specify how much of the training should focus on the “abusive conduct” requirement. It also does not amend the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) to make abusive conduct an illegal or prohibited employment action.
Employers should review and update their supervisor anti- harassment training materials, or require vendors to do the same, to ensure that trainings include the “abusive conduct” component.