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What do employers need to do to meet sexual harassment training requirements in California?

All California employers who employ five or more workers are required by law to provide their employees with sexual harassment and abuse prevention training every two years. Sexual harassment in the workplace has become a major concern in recent years.

Under California law, employers have an “affirmative duty” to take steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and to take swift action when it arises. Employers could be held liable for incidents of sexual harassment or abuse that occur, so it is both morally incumbent and advantageous for employers to take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place.

What is Effective Interactive Training?

The first thing to know is that employers are required to provide “effective interactive training” under California law. This means that the training must be individualized and interactive in nature. It can’t simply be text-based training, for instance.

This “effective interactive training” can take different forms. The training could be conducted in person by a trained professional, online through interactive computer-based training, or in a webinar setting, in which a personal trainer leads a seminar in real-time over the Internet.

If the employer provides their employees with computer-based “e-learning” training, then the training must be done on an individual basis and can’t be conducted in a group setting. If the training is conducted in-person or via a live online seminar, then the training may be done in a group setting.

Training Requirements

Employers must provide training to all of their employees, even supervisors. Supervisors must complete two hours of training every two years, while employees must complete one hour of training every two years. California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing offers free online courses for supervisors and non-supervisors, but employers can also utilize other sexual harassment and abuse prevention training programs as long as those programs meet certain state-mandated requirements.

It’s also important for the employer to note that they must cover the cost of the sexual harassment and abuse prevention training and must pay their employees for their time. Employers are not allowed to request that their employees complete the training on their own personal time. Employees must ensure that their employees complete the training within their first six months on the job, and repeat the training every two years thereafter.

Exceptions to Training Requirements

There are certain exemptions to providing employees with sexual harassment and abuse prevention training, such as for seasonal and temporary employees. If an employee works less than 30 days or works for less than 100 hours, then the employer is not required to provide the training.

This training is also not required for independent contractors, unpaid interns, or volunteers who work for the business (it’s important to note, though, that these workers are counted toward the five-employee threshold that determines whether or not the employer must provide the training).

In addition to the sexual harassment and abuse training, employers are also required to provide employees with a written handbook that states the employer’s policy on sexual harassment and what constitutes a breach of the policy. The employer’s policy must meet a strict set of requirements set forth by California law.

Contact a Riverside Sexual Harassment Lawyer

Sexual harassment isn’t just immoral, it’s illegal, and your employer has a duty to prevent and address physical and verbal sexual harassment in the workplace. If you believe that you’ve been sexually harassed and would like to know more about your rights as an employee, contact the Riverside sexual harassment attorneys of Wagner Zemming Christensen Attorneys at Law today. We can be reached at (951) 363-3923, through our online contact form, or by chatting with us live.

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