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California Expands Sexual Harassment Training Requirements to Employers with Five or More Employees


Even before the #MeToo movement, California adopted laws in place requiring certain employers to train employees on sexual harassment prevention in the workplace. The 2005 law stated that only businesses with at least 50 employees needed to conduct such training. But a recent amendment to the law has reduced that threshold substantially.

In September 2018, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1343. This legislation expanded the 2005 law. Now, instead of 50 employees, a California business with as few as 5 employees must conduct sexual harassment training. And the law now covers training of non-supervisory employees and not just supervisors. SB 1343 formally took effect on January 1 of this year, so many more California employers are now covered by the training law and its provisions.

Here is a brief rundown of what SB 1343 requires:

  • Supervisory employees must receive “at least two hours of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment.” This training must be completed by January 1, 2020.
  • Non-supervisory employees must receive at least one hour of similar training, which also must be completed by January 1, 2020.
  • After the completion of initial training by 2020, all employees must receive additional training at least once every two years, i.e. the next round of sexual harassment training must be completed by January 1, 2022.
  • SB 1343 requires training take place sometime during 2019; this means that even if supervisors previously received sexual harassment training in 2018, they still need to undergo an additional round of training to comply with the new law.
  • Training must take place within 6 months of an employee being hired or assuming a supervisory position; seasonal workers–i.e., employees expected to work less than six months–must receive training within the earlier of 30 calendar days of hiring or the first 100 hours on-the-job.

What Is Considered “Sexual Harassment Training”?

The sexual harassment training itself must cover a number of subjects, including but not limited to the following:

  • the definition of sexual harassment under federal and California law, and the fact it is illegal;
  • a description of the types of behaviors that qualify as sexual harassment under the law, including examples;
  • the employer’s internal process for receiving and handling complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace;
  • the “legal remedies” and process for filing a sexual harassment complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing; and
  • the employees’ legal protections against retaliation if they do file a sexual harassment complaint, either internally or with the Department.

This is only a brief overview of what the law requires. If you are a California business in need of conducting sexual harassment training, contact a qualified California employment law attorney as soon as possible.

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* Cathleen Scott is licensed to practice in Florida only.

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