In October 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed new legislation surrounding California’s sexual harassment training requirements. The bill, SB 1343, focuses on driving down workplace sexual harassment and discrimination.
SB 1343 Training Requirements
The SB 1343 mandates that organizations throughout the state are required to provide:
- All non-supervisory employees with at least one hour of mandatory sexual harassment and discrimination training by January 1, 2020
- All supervisors with at least two hours of training by January 1, 2020
Under SB 1343 training requirements, employees will need to be re-trained every two years following the 2020 deadline. Altogether, 92 percent of the state’s workforce—roughly 15.5 million workers—will be impacted. Here’s what HR and compliance professionals need to know about SB 1343.
What Does SB 1343 Change?
Since 2005, mandatory sexual harassment training in California has been required for employers with 50 or more employees. Organizations had to provide at least two hours of sexual harassment training to supervisors every two years.
California’s sexual harassment training laws are changing with SB 1343 by requiring employers with five or more employees to provide non-supervisory employees with at least one hour of training every two years, in addition to requiring these employers to provide (or continue to provide) two hours of biennial supervisory training.
How To Be SB 1343 Compliant?
Considering the expansive nature of SB 1343, your business will likely need to take a number of measures over the next year to satisfy its many requirements.
Your organization will need to schedule and deliver sexual harassment and discrimination training to your workforce prior to the 2020 deadline. You can use the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s (DFEH) online training sessions or your business can use an alternate curriculum, as long as it covers the mandated topics.
SB 1343 Training curriculum for those seeking to create their own sexual harassment and discrimination training, or purchase existing SB 1343 training content, the mandate requires all instructional material to teach learners about:
- The federal and statewide ban on sexual harassment
- Information and practical guidance on sexual harassment prevention
- Abusive conduct prevention
- Corrective actions against those who commit harassment
- Resources available to people who experience sexual harassment.
SB 1343 training must also teach these additional concepts with practical examples: harassment on the basis of sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity, and discrimination, retaliation, and abusive conduct.
The Fair Employment and Housing Act defines abusive conduct like this:
“Abusive conduct” means 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. 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. A single act shall not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe and egregious.
Does SB 1343’s Require Online Training or Live Training?
SB 1343 training requirements state that employee education may take the form of online or live training — the latter of which can be delivered to employees individually, or in groups. Further, those who provide training sessions are required to have “knowledge and expertise” in harassment prevention, discrimination, retaliation, and harassment. Trainers also need to have expertise on harassment that occurs on the basis of sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity, among other requirements specified in state regulation.
Note also that the sexual harassment and discrimination training does not need to be completed in a single session. The hourly SB 1343 training requirements may be met by multiple sessions, so long as they add up to the two hours required for supervisors or hour for non-supervisory staff.
How Soon Do New Staff Members Need to Be Trained?
As stated above, both supervisors and non-management staff members are required to receive training by the first mandated deadline, January 1, 2020. After that, both employee groups will need to be trained within six months of their start dates, or dates of promotion to supervisor.
SB 1343 Training Requirements for Full vs. Part-Time Employees
Seasonal or temporary staff must receive non-supervisory training within the first 30 days or 100 completed hours of work—whichever occurs first. The legislation also explicitly mentions that migrant and seasonal agricultural workers must be trained in the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace. If temporary employees are employed by a temporary services agency, that agency is required to provide the training.
Are There Any Other SB 1343 Training Requirements To Know About?
Note that the law’s five-employee threshold isn’t limited to full-time employees, as it includes employers who “regularly” receive services in accordance with a contract, or those who act directly or indirectly as an “agent” of the employer.
So far, SB 1343 represents a significantly more ambitious approach to preventing sexual harassment in California workplaces than AB 1825. While sexual harassment and discrimination training alone isn’t a silver bullet, when combined with accountability, and effective policies and procedures, organizations all over the state may make a dent in the prevalence of these harmful events.