Expanded Sexual Harassment Training Requirements

Employment Law Reporter, Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP

The Fair Employment and Housing Commission recently issued final regulations which clarify and expand the sexual harassment training requirements that became part of the Fair Employment and Housing Act in 2005. The regulations did not change the requirement that all employers provide at least two hours of sexual harassment training to managers and supervisors every two years. However, a very broad definition of “employer” was adopted, requiring any business located in California employing 50 or more full-time, part-time and temporary employees, contractors or persons acting as its agents for each working day in any 20 consecutive weeks in the current or prior calendar year to comply with the training requirements. Further, all such persons must be counted regardless of whether they work within or outside California.

All supervisors located in California must be trained. Compliance may be tracked on an individual basis or by group or year, and documentation of the training must be retained for a minimum of two years. The documentation must include the names of the persons trained, dates of training, type of training used and the name of the trainer. New supervisors must still be trained within six months unless the person has received appropriate training from a previous employer within the prior two years, in which case the new supervisor can be provided a copy of the employer’s policy against harassment which must be read and acknowledged within six months of hiring.

The training must be conducted by a qualified trainer. The regulations define a “qualified trainer” as an attorney admitted to practice for two or more years whose practice includes employment law under FEHA or Title VII. The definition also includes law school or college professors with a post-graduate degree or California teaching credential and 20 instruction hours or at least two years of experience teaching employment law under FEHA or Title VII. Also included are human resource consultants with two or more years of practical experience designing or conducting training, investigating complaints or advising employers on discrimination, harassment and retaliation prevention.

The training must be conducted by interactive methods. A live classroom setting, webinar or e-learning methods are acceptable, provided the training is given by a qualified trainer and is interactive. The instruction must include questions that assess learning, skill-building activities that assess understanding and application of content and hypothetical scenarios coupled with discussion questions. The regulations also set forth numerous specific content requirements for the training, including definitions of harassment under state and federal law, types of conduct that constitute harassment, remedies for harassment, strategies for prevention, a discussion of the complaint and investigation process and what to do if a supervisor is personally accused of harassment.



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