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California's Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training Law

By: Monica Quinn, Esq.

California's Fair Employment and Housing Act now requires that all employers with more than 50 employees provide sexual harassment training to all supervisors. The deadline for such training was January 1, 2006. The new law requires at least two hours of training every two years for all employees with any supervisory or managerial authority over other workers. Newly hired or promoted supervisors have to be trained within six months of assuming their supervisory position.

The new law requires that the training be presented in an interactive format by an instructor with knowledge and expertise in the prevention of harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

In late 2005, the Fair Employment and Housing Commission issued proposed regulations regarding the specific requirements of the new law. These regulations are not final yet, but provide some important guidance. For example, as currently drafted, the regulations do not require that all 50 employees work at the same location or that they all reside in California. In addition, the proposed regulations adopt a broad definition of the term "supervisor." Although the regulations are subject to modification until they become final, they provide helpful answers to many questions that were previously unanswered.

Top 5 Tips to Ensure Compliance with this New Law

  • Implement a training program.
  • Ensure that the content and the trainer chosen comply with the new law. The current regulations require the trainer to be knowledgeable in the field and the training to be interactive. Thus, simply playing a videotape is not sufficient.
  • Determine who must be trained - when in doubt, it is always best to include a person in training, rather than exclude them.
  • Create a set schedule for training. Remember all employees with supervisory/managerial authority must be trained every two years and newly hired or promoted supervisors must be trained within six months of assuming the supervisory position.
  • Create a method of recording who was trained and when.