New Law Requires Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training for All Employees

05.09.19Baylee Olsen

Sexual Harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 .

Although throughout the years, powerful and pivotal events have initiated historic attention to the continuous struggle, even today, sexual harassment is very profound and problematic in the workplace.  

Over 25 years ago, the first public allegations of sexual harassment were brought to the forefront and was a significant moment in history, where a woman, Anita Hill testified to sexual harassment from former boss Clarence Thomas during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Thomas to the Supreme Court in 1991.

Her bravery sparked outrage among women while also triggering similar recollections of suppressed and painful sexual abuse they endured.

“When they reflected upon it at the end of the hearings, their anger began to rise, and their determination to do something about it began to increase.” – Marcia Greenberger, founder and co-president emerita of the National Women’s Law Center.

From the History Channel

This was a momentous time in history and led to increased awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace. However, the epidemic of sexual misconduct and harassment has been prevalent in the workplace for most of American history.

Sexual harassment has affected women in the workplace for decades and was often overlooked and ignored.  The phrase “sexual harassment” was coined in 1975, by a group of women at Cornell University. A former employee of the university, Carmita Wood, filed a claim for unemployment benefits after she resigned from her job due to unwanted touching from her supervisor.  

Like Ms. Wood, many women were silenced or forced to suffer damaging consequences and retaliation if they reported any instances of harassment.  The lack of protection and support for those who came forward was widely known and left many women fearful and powerless in the workplace.

In 2014, Google announced that it’s executive, Andy Rubin was leaving the company and was praised for his work, with no mention of the sexual misconduct allegations against him by a female employee.  

In fact, he was not terminated but given the opportunity to resign, with a generous monetary exit package.  Google could have fired Mr. Rubin and paid him little to nothing on the way out, but instead chose to blatantly ignore the allegations and protect the accuser.  Among women who’ve personally experienced unwanted sexual advances in the workplace, nearly all, 95 percent, say male harassers usually go unpunished.

While instances of sexual harassment and abuse continue to occur in the workplace, it is also becoming increasingly difficult and acceptable to ignore.  As more attention and awareness of sexual harassment has come to light, so has the need for reform and change within our laws.

In 2018, Governor Brown of California recently signed new legislation, SB 1343, which drastically changes the requirements of employers when it comes to sexual harassment training in the workplace.

Since 2005, mandatory sexual harassment training in California has been required for employers with 50 or more employees, but only required to be given to supervisors.

Beginning in 2020, those requirements will significantly change.  

Here is what all employers will need to know and how to stay compliant:

  • California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the federal Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 make sexual harassment illegal in the workplace.
  • SB 1343 amended the FEHA regulations and requires businesses with five or more employees to provide sexual-harassment-prevention training to all workers by Jan. 1, 2020, and every two years thereafter.
  • All supervisors with at least two hours of training by January 1, 2020.
    • Supervisors need to be strongly familiar with the essential elements of an anti-harassment policy, including the supervisor’s role in the complaint procedure
  • Temp Agencies are now Required to Train all Temporary and Seasonal Employees
  • All employers will be required to include the following in their training sessions:
    • Classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment to all supervisory employees and at least one hour of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment to all nonsupervisory employees in California within six months of their assumption of a position
    • Employers must provide sexual harassment prevention training to temporary or seasonal employees within 30 calendar days after the hire date or within 100 hours worked if the employee will work for less than six months
    • The training and education shall also include practical examples aimed at instructing supervisors in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, and shall be presented by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation
    • An employer shall also include prevention of abusive conduct as a component of the training and education
    • The training and education shall include practical examples inclusive of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, and shall be presented by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in those areas
Previous Law (2018)New Law—SB 1343 (2019)
Employers with 50+ Employees Covered Employers with 5+ Employees Covered
Two Hours of Mandatory Training Only for SupervisorsTwo hours of Mandatory Training for Supervisors and One Hour of Mandatory Training for Non-Supervisors

The new changes will ultimately affect most employers in California and will vastly expand your liability requirements.  

Compliance is mandatory and quickly approaching which leads to the question, is your organization ready to receive SDHRC’s invaluable support? We make sure your team leaves the training feeling energized, motivated and ready to make a difference!