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Complying with California Sexual Harassment Law AB 1825

California employers must comply with AB 1825, a state law that requires sexual harassment prevention training for supervisors and managers. Through questions and answers, this article highlights the requirements of the 2006 laws and provides guidance for meeting them.

Questions and answers about this law

Is my organization covered by the law? It is, if you have 50 or more employees. As defined by law, independent contractors and workers who are temporary employees are counted, so if you have only 40 regular employees on your payroll, but you use 10 or more temporary workers or independent contractors, you are an employer. covered.

Who has to be trained?

Supervisors must be trained. In California, the definition of supervisor is broad. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act defines supervisors to include any individual who has the authority…to hire, transfer, suspend, fire, recall, promote, fire, assign, reward, or discipline others employees, or the responsibility of directing them. , or to adjust your grievances, or to effectively recommend that action, if in connection with the foregoing, the exercise of that authority is not merely routine or administrative in nature, but requires the use of independent judgment. Therefore, even employees who simply participate in personnel decisions, but are not the final decision makers themselves, can be considered supervisors who should receive training.

How much training is required?

The requirement is two hours of sexual harassment prevention training for supervisory employees every two years. Who does the training? Training must be delivered by trainers or educators with knowledge and experience in bullying, discrimination, and retaliation prevention.

Does it matter how the training is delivered?

Yes. The requirement is two hours of class or other effective interactive training and education. The requirement that the training be interactive probably means that simply showing supervisors a video, having them listen to a lecture, or asking them to read something would not satisfy the requirement. Some typical interactive aspects of the training include questions and answers and role plays. It may be advisable to test the participants at the end of the training to demonstrate that it was effective.

What does the training have to cover?

The training must include information and practical guidance on federal and state laws prohibiting sexual harassment, including the prevention and correction of harassment and the remedies available to victims. The statute specifically requires employers to use practical examples to instruct supervisors in preventing harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

Will I be able to use the AB 1825 compliance training as a defense to a sexual harassment claim?

Unfortunately, it isn’t. The law specifically provides that compliance is not a defense to a claim of sexual harassment and, conversely, that the failure of a supervisor to receive training is not grounds for establishing liability for harassment under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. . The FEHA makes it an illegal practice for an employer to fail to take all steps reasonably necessary to prevent harassment from occurring. Providing the required training is one step, but only one step, in meeting this requirement. In fact, AB 1825 does not discourage or exempt any employer from providing longer, more frequent, or more elaborate training and education regarding workplace harassment or other forms of unlawful discrimination in order to meet its obligations to take all appropriate measures. Reasonably necessary to prevent and correct harassment and discrimination.

The US Supreme Court and state and federal agencies have made it clear that employers who train employees about sexual harassment and have an anti-harassment policy and complaint procedure that has been communicated to employees Minimize your exposure to liability. Therefore, while training under 1825, or at a more extensive level, will not totally immunize an employer from liability for sexual harassment, it will definitely help reduce susceptibility.

After January 1, 2006, all supervisors and managers must receive at least two hours of training every two years. Supervisors employed on or after July 1, 2005 must complete the initial two hours of training by January 1, 2006. However, supervisors trained after January 1, 2003 do not need to be retrained before the deadline of January 1, 2006 (future bi -annual training will still be required). Supervisors who are hired, or employees promoted to supervisory positions, after July 1, 2005, must complete training within six months of hire or promotion.

What is the penalty for non-compliance?

Failure to comply could cause the Department of Fair Employment and Housing to issue an order requiring the employer to complete the required training. It’s also worth noting that failure to meet the minimum standards of AB 1825 could provide a basis for punitive damages in the event of a sexual harassment lawsuit. A plaintiff’s attorney could argue that a lack of training under the law demonstrates an organization’s reckless disregard of the law, thus establishing a potential basis for liability for punitive damages.

Is California the only state with this type of requirement?

No. Connecticut and Maine have similar requirements, although the details differ. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that an employer could avoid liability if he or she has certain preventative measures, including training. [Gaines v. Bellino, 173 N.J. 301 (2002).]

What do I need to do to ensure my organization is on top of AB 1825 compliance? Here are some essential suggestions:

  • Develop a list of all those who meet the FEHA definition of a supervisory employee and a system to track those who are recently promoted to supervisor or whose responsibilities change to include supervisory duties.
  • Purchase or develop interactive training that has been created and developed by experts with practical experience in sexual harassment prevention.
  • Schedule and administer training for all current supervisors who have not received sexual harassment training after January 1, 2003.
  • Develop a system to monitor and ensure new supervisors are trained within six months of hire/promotion and every two years thereafter
  • Implement and maintain a record keeping system to demonstrate compliance.
  • Update policies and procedures to include proper training documentation and references.
  • Make sure your executives are aware of this requirement and that they take into account the time and financial commitment it will take to train supervisors under the new law.


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