What to Know about the New California Sexual Harassment Training Regulations

There are new California sexual harassment training regulations, which go into effect in 2020. Here’s how to prepare for the deadline.

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Do you conduct business in the state of California? If so, listen up! Due to recent legislation, California businesses have a deadline of January 1, 2020, to enstate new sexual harassment policies. The change to the policy includes a new requirement for sexual harassment training. Read on to learn how to create a successful California sexual harassment training policy. In this article, we’ll cover the correct information to include, activities to try, and more.

California Sexual Harassment Training

Sexual harassment continues to become a more significant concern in the workplace, and data shows an increase in harassment reports in the past year as business owners and HR leaders have put new policies into place. As a step further, California lawmakers are fighting misconduct by enstating a new training policy for businesses with five or more employees. In previous years, only organizations with 50 or more employees were required to hold training seminars. However, new legislation recognizes the sexual harassment threat to companies of all sizes.

California lawmakers are fighting misconduct by enstating a new training policy for businesses with five or more employees.

As of January 1, 2020 training procedures will be mandatory for all supervisors and non-supervisors. These changes are the result of Senate Bill 1343. Two hours of sexual harassment prevention training and education must be scheduled for supervisors once every two years according to the new law. Non-supervisors are required to participate in one hour of similar training.

Senate Bill 1343 also states that California employers will need to provide written harassment, discrimination, and retaliation prevention policies to all employees. Along with a written policy, employers must “post required notices from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing” and provide new hires with “a sexual harassment information sheet,” states the California Chamber of Commerce. The chamber offers written harassment policies and notice posters for purchase online. Policies must meet strict criteria, which is why the chamber recommends employers utilize their up-to-date resources.

Important Training Components

Effective sexual harassment training identifies misconduct, reviews federal and state laws, establishes consequences for harassment, and defines liable parties.

California sexual harassment training should start by reviewing what constitutes sexual harassment. It’s critical for all team members to understand what unwelcome sexual, physical, or verbal behaviors look like in the workplace. For example, sexual harassment can include asking for sexual favors, sexual touching, offensive language, and more.

After your team is clear on what is and isn’t appropriate behavior, review federal and state laws. According to the California Chamber of Commerce, “Federal law forbids sexual harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” The California Fair Employment and Housing Act is the state law which protects “applicants, employees, unpaid interns, professional relationships, and independent contractors” from sexual harassment.

Training should review these laws in detail along with the consequences for breaking them. If reported, sexual harassment can lead to reprimands, demotions, or termination. If harassment escalates to sexual assault, criminal charges may occur.

Another vital component of training includes liability. Federal and state laws apply to supervisors, co-workers, customers, and vendors. Therefore, supervisors and their employees can all be held liable. No one is immune to these laws.

Sexual Harassment Training Activities

After reviewing the essential information, conclude the training with a couple of activities to help reinforce the lessons.

A sexual harassment quiz is a great way to test participant knowledge. Develop a short questionnaire that integrates the topics above to help employees think critically and apply the concepts to real-world situations.

Role play is another useful activity to include in training. Creating a sexual harassment scenario will help team members identify signs of misconduct and respond appropriately. This activity is also known as the Situation-Behavior-Impact Technique.

Divide employees into groups of three. In each group, designate one person to confront the behavior, one person to be responsible for the behavior, and an observer to take notes. Create a sexual harassment scenario for the group and give the person confronting the behavior a set of steps to follow to handle the situation appropriately.

Give each group member a chance to play each role. Once everyone has acted out the scenario, instruct the class to discuss what they learned.

If your organization operates in the state of California, follow these best practices when developing a California sexual harassment training policy. Make sure your company has all procedures in place by January 1, 2020.        

Please note that this post is intended to be information, but not exhaustive. Always check with an advisor or seek legal counsel when developing a sexual harassment policy.
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