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Harassment Training in the Workplace – California Requirements

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Maybe you’ve heard the buzz – beginning this year, virtually all California employers are required by law to provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees. This new regulation applies to those employers with 5 or more employees, however, non-harassment laws apply to any business that has at least one employee so it’s important to have a sexual harassment policy in place on how to address these issues in the workplace. 

Not only is the new sexual harassment training a requirement, but it’s also a best practice – it increases awareness of acceptable and unacceptable behavior among your employees and it also sends a strong message that you have a ZERO tolerance policy for improper behavior in the workplace. Harassment prevention training also enforces a culture of RESPECT and is arguably the first line of defense in preventing legal risks associated with sexual harassment. 

Let’s break down the legislation and how these new regulations came to fruition.  

  • 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. California’s AB 1825, enacted in 2005, makes certain employer action items and training mandatory. 
  • Effective Jan. 1, 2015, amendment AB 2053 requires all California employers subject to the mandatory training requirement under AB 1825 to include a component on preventing “abusive conduct.” 
  • Effective Apr. 1, 2016, FEHA regulations were revised to clarify and expand the protections, employer actions and training requirements. 
  • Effective Jan. 1, 2018, SB 396 expanded required training for supervisors to prevent sexual harassment to include gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. 
  • Finally, 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. 

Harassment refers to any form of verbal, visual, or physical conduct that could create or contribute to an intimidating, offensive, or hostile working environment.  Harassment is a form of discrimination, which refers to unequal or unfair treatment of an individual or a group, based on certain characteristics protected by federal and/or state law. Harassment and discrimination are never acceptable and against the law. Employees have a legal, moral, and ethical responsibility to guard against this inappropriate workplace conduct. They should also be able to report what they see and hear without fear of retaliation. 

The impact of harassment and discrimination in the workplace is not confined to the victim. It can affect others around the victim and the entire company, which is why harassment prevention training exists. It’s important that you offer employees comprehensive harassment prevention training so that they can stand up to inappropriate workplace behavior, including bullying and other behaviors that may violate internal policy, and make it clear that this type of behavior won’t be tolerated. 

You may be asking – “where can I find this training?  And how is my company going to comply?” bizhaven is here for you! After your employees go through our sexual harassment training they’ll be able recognize and identify harassment and discrimination in the workplace and recognize its impact it can have. 

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