Exclusively Employment Law

Is Your Employer Providing Sexual Harassment Prevention Training?

by | Aug 24, 2018 | Harassment

In California, employers with 50 or more full-time, part-time, or temporary employees or independent contractors must provide sexual harassment prevention training regularly to their supervisors.

The objectives of this training are: (a) to assist employers in changing or modifying workplace behaviors that create or contribute to sexual harassment; (b) to provide supervisors with information relating to the negative effects of abusive conduct (as defined below); and (c) to develop, foster, and encourage a set of values among supervisors that will assist supervisors in preventing and effectively responding to incidents of sexual harassment, as well as in implementing mechanisms to promptly address and correct wrongful behavior.

Whether or not employers provided this required training is relevant in sexual harassment lawsuits. For example, an employer’s failure to provide this required training suggests to the court and jury that the employer was less than diligent in attempting to ensure that its supervisors do not engage in harassing conduct. In general, in sexual harassment lawsuits, courts and juries are less sympathetic to employers who fail to implement the sexual harassment preventive measures that are required by law.

Some of the notable requirements of the sexual harassment prevention training are set forth below:

1. Employers must provide two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to all supervisors who are located in California. A supervisor is anyone with the authority to hire, fire, assign, transfer, discipline, or reward other employees; or anyone with the authority to recommend these actions, if exercising that authority requires the use of independent judgment.

2. Supervisors must receive such training every two years. New supervisors must receive the training within six months of taking a position as a supervisor.

3. Among other things, the sexual harassment prevention training must include the following information: (a) practical guidance regarding the federal and California laws concerning the prohibition against and the prevention and correction of sexual harassment; (b) the remedies that are available to victims of sexual harassment; and (c) practical examples aimed at instructing supervisors in the prevention of sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

4. The training must also include “abusive conduct” (i.e., workplace bullying) prevention training. “Abusive conduct” is defined as “conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests.”

In turn, “abusive conduct” may include “repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance.”

By itself, abusive conduct is not unlawful under California law – but it may constitute unlawful harassment or discrimination if it is based on a victim’s protected characteristic (e.g., race, gender, disability, etc.).

5. Finally, as part of the sexual harassment prevention training, employers must also provide training about the prevention of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. “Gender identity” is defined as a person’s internal understanding of and identification with gender, which may include male, female, a combination of male and female, neither male nor female, a gender different from the person’s sex assigned at birth, or transgender. “Gender expression” is defined as a person’s gender-related appearance or behavior (i.e., how individuals present their gender to the world).

If you believe that you have been subjected to sexual harassment at work, call 916-612-0326 or email ([email protected]) Finley Employment Law today. We serve clients throughout California, including Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, Granite Bay, and Elk Grove.

The information in this blog post is for general informational and advertising purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Instead, you should speak with a California employment attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.