California employers must provide a minimum two-hour training session on preventing sexual harassment in 2011. Under AB 1825, each employer is required to train supervisors to avoid sexual harassment in the workplace at least every two years. Employers with 50 or more employees can avoid tracking training of individual employees if they conduct company-wide training for supervisors during one calendar year. Because AB 1825 went into effect in 2005, the training takes place in odd-numbered years for most employers.
According to attorney David Goldman, employers should focus particularly on retaliation in the AB 1825 training. That is because complaints of retaliation increased 49% between 2006 and 2009. By comparison, charges of sexual harassment increased only 5% during the same period.
In particular, employers need to make supervisors aware that taking any negative action against an employee who files a discrimination or sexual harassment complaint in good faith is illegal retaliation. Common forms of retaliation can range from ostracizing the employee, to demoting or terminating the employee on trumped-up grounds. Even when a discrimination complaint is determined to be unfounded, retaliation against the employee is illegal. An employer can legally take negative action only against an employee who is found to have committed fraud when making the complaint of discrimination.
A new host of labor laws have come into play in California after the New Year, but then again, California has new laws seemingly every year. Just take the new laws that came into effect in the beginning of 2006. One of such labor law was California labor law AB 1825, which came into effect as early as 2005 but really started affecting California businesses in 2006.
To be exact, California labor law AB 1825 was effective in January 2005, and required companies with more than 50 employees to provide those employees with training on how to prevent and spot sexual harassment, as well as discrimination and retaliation when it came to employees who claim they have been discriminated against or harassed.
When we say 50 employees, that includes most any employee that you can think about—full time, part time, temporary, permanent, and even contractors. Imagine any employee that you would have to file a new hire report on, and that is basically who you have to train against harassment and discrimination in your organization in California.
By 2006, according to the new law, all of your supervisors who had been in your organization since July 1, 2005, had to be trained to watch out for discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. On the other hand, if you had already trained these supervisors as of January 2003 in anti-discrimination, retaliation, and against harassment, then you did not have to train them again.
What is this training I keep talking about? According to AB 1825, the training against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in California must include two hours of classroom instruction, or some other interactive and proven training method. Starting in 2006, the training had to be repeated at least every two years to comply with the California labor law.
This existing labor law in California on sexual harassment and discrimination, remember, is primarily for companies with 50 or more employees, and it is all about providing training to your employees to prevent them from partaking in sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation against your other employees.
So the primary focus then of your training according to California’s AB 1825 is to train anyone in your company who has some sort of authority position. This could include supervisors and managers, human resource types, and basically anyone who has authority over others in your organization.
We’re talking more than a day to day authority though. The supervisor or manager type person who is to get training under this California labor law has to have more organizational authority, such as the ability to transfer someone, fire someone, or hire someone.
It could also mean that the employee can also have the authority to assign another employee a new task, to promote them to a higher position in the organization, to reward them for exceptional performance, to punish them for poor performances, or to even discipline or suspend them for illegal or otherwise improper behavior.
It is these realms of the employee to employee relationship that discrimination and sexual harassment can rear their ugly heads. Imagine these scenarios. A woman claims that she was unfairly passed over for promotion by her supervisor, and the new job was instead given to the supervisor’s male golf buddy. Or the more insidious scenario could be that a female employee claiming that her manager always assigns her to work on projects that involve close work with her because he is coming on to her and wants to spend long hours with her late at night.
Training is meant to put a halt to such sexual harassment issues.
We all know about the sexual harassment law in California now, about how employers with 50 or more employees must provide their supervisors and managers with at least two hours of training every two years to help them prevent sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation at the work site. This two hour training or more must be given to all newly hired or promoted supervisors or managers, within six months of them taking their post.
This law doesn’t necessary extend to all employers, especially those with fewer than 50 employees, but sexual harassment just doesn’t target all big employers. In fact, any employer is open for sexual harassment charges from one of their employees, as well as discrimination charges and the charges of retaliation that can follow.
To that end, the California Chamber of Commerce is offering a Web based training program to help all California businesses comply with the sexual harassment and discrimination guidelines on training and education.
The Web based program is paced so that the supervisor themselves can control the pace of the training, making it suitable for any level of experience within your group of supervisors and managers. This Web bases training meets the California labor law’s requirements that the training be interactive, which means that video training in your conference room is not likely to cut it as a training under the California labor law.
Instead, you will need to have role playing, perhaps some question and answer sessions with a resident or outside expert, or some other active and lively component of the training in order to meet the requirements of the California labor law.
What if you just give a hand out instead? Well, consider this. Failure to comply with the California labor law on sexual harassment could lead to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing sending you a corrective order, as well as opening your company up to more possible sexual harassment court cases —and losses.
The new labor laws for California also have to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace. Perhaps, actually, it is these labor laws that have gotten so much of the new attention by California employees, besides the new laws for the minimum wage increase in California.
Whichever laws are getting the most attention, here are the ones that involve sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Some of these laws build on or refine the previous laws on sexual harassment that we’ve talked about, ones that have already been in effect in California in the last year or before.
Such a law is the so called AB 2095, which talks about sexual harassment training. Such training in the state of California has only got to be applied by employers for their supervisors who are located in the state of California. So in other words, if a San Francisco based company has an office in Seattle, they do not have to train their supervisors in Washington state on the sexual harassment requirements of California.
The previous law that we looked at in California on sexual harassment, as well as discrimination and retaliation, had required that all California employers train their newly hired or promoted supervisor and manager types with 2 hours of interactive education on how not to have sexual harassment and discrimination in the work site. This training was supposed to last at least 2 hours long, and was meant to be repeated at least every 2 years for each individual supervisor or manager type.
The law, if you remember, also was only mandatory for employers with 50 or more employees under their care. As we can see by this additional labor law on the topic, there might have been some confusion whether or not California employers had to also train all of their supervisors in branch offices outside of the state.