In its continued effort to combat harassment in the workplace, the California Legislature has expanded employers’ obligation to provide anti-harassment training, and most employers must comply with the new requirements in 2019.
Since 2006, California has required employers who receive services from 50 or more persons to provide anti-harassment training to their supervisors. The new law expands the training obligation to employers with five or more employees, however, and requires that training be provided to all employees, not only managers and supervisors.
Covered employers must complete the required training by December 31, 2019, and employees must repeat training every two years thereafter. Training for managers must last at least two hours, and training for non-managers must last at least one hour. Newly hired employees must receive training within six months after starting employment. As a result of the expansion in the law, most employers must provide training to their workforce in 2019.
The new law not only expands the training mandate applicable to California employers, it also designates various topics that must be addressed during the training, including, among other things, (a) practical guidance regarding the prevention and correction of harassment, (b) the remedies available to victims of harassment, and (c) examples of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. Training must be interactive and must afford participants with the opportunity to ask questions. Online training is permitted, but live training is more likely to comply with the new law, and more likely to result in meaningful learning and change.
The mandatory training law states that it “is intended to establish a minimum threshold” for training. Non-complying companies that become entangled in litigation concerning alleged discrimination or harassment are likely to be portrayed as indifferent or even hostile to their legal responsibilities, thereby increasing the risk of a substantial verdict and/or an award of punitive damages against them. Completing the required training is even more important in light of the heightened sensitivity to harassment claims in the wake of the MeToo movement.
Employers that have not made plans to provide the required training to their employees should do so as soon as possible to eliminate the risk that they will not complete the training before the end of the year. The attorneys within Hopkins & Carley’s Employment Law Department are experienced in providing the training required by law and can help employers satisfy their anti-harassment training requirement in two ways, either through training provided at their facility or at ours.
For small organizations, or organizations seeking to provide training to just a few employees, we will offer periodic open training sessions at a cost of $75 per manager and $50 per non-manager. Our next session for non-managers is scheduled for March 20, 2019 starting at 9:00 a.m. at our San Jose office, and the next session for managers will take place on March 26, 2019, also starting at 9:00 a.m. at our San Jose office. Online registration is available below. Additional sessions will be announced in the near future.
For clients who prefer sessions at their own facilities, or those who need to provide training to a substantial number of employees, our standard package for on-site training includes -
- Consultation with management in advance of the training session to familiarize us with your organization's history, culture and philosophy;
- Written materials summarizing the content of the presentation provided to all managers;
- PowerPoint slides to guide the discussion during the presentation;
- Required documentation of the training; and