Sexual Harrassment Training is Key to Risk Prevention

The best way for employers to reduce the risk of successful harassment claims is to maintain and enforce anti-harassment policies, train the workforce on the prevention of harassment, and respond to concerns promptly and effectively.

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And it’s Mandated for California Employers with 50+ Employees

The best way for employers to reduce the risk of successful harassment claims is to maintain and enforce anti-harassment policies, train the workforce on the prevention of harassment, and respond to concerns promptly and effectively. California law requires two hours of sexual harassment prevention training for managers and supervisors every 24 months. New supervisory employees must receive sexual harassment prevention training within six months of their assumption of a supervisory position, and thereafter, every two years.

The requirements apply to organizations that regularly employ 50 or more employees, or regularly "receive the services of" 50 or more persons. Independent contractors and temps are included in the 50+ number. A contractor is any person performing services pursuant to a contract (or an independent contractor) for each working day for at least 20 consecutive weeks in the current or preceding calendar year.

Who Is A Supervisor?
A supervisor is anyone who, exercising independent judgment, directs other employees, or has the authority (or recommends when) to hire, transfer, suspend, layoff, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward, adjust grievances, or discipline other employees. The language "recommends such action" broadens the training requirement to employees who may not be classified as a supervisor for wage and hour purposes, but who have power or control over the work environment. This can even be someone in a "work lead" role.

What Topics Must be Covered in the Training?
The training must cover at least the following topics:

  • Information and practical guidance regarding federal and state statutory laws about sexual harassment;
  • How to correct sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment
  • Practical examples aimed at instructing supervisors in preventing sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation;
  • The effect of harassment on harassed employees, co-workers, harassers and employers;
  • How to report harassment complaints;
  • How to respond to a harassment complaint;
  • What constitutes retaliation and how to prevent it;
  • Essential components of an anti-harassment policy;
  • What steps to take when harassing behavior occurs in the workplace; and
  • The employer's obligation to conduct a workplace investigation of a harassment complaint, with direction for leaders on how to handle complaints.

The training must be conducted via "classroom or other effective interactive training." The law sets forth specific trainer qualifications. The individual must be an attorney or an expert in human resources with at least two years' experience handling equal employment opportunity legal and policy matters, or a professor who teaches in this discipline.

This article is an excerpt from the December 2011 edition of From The Hotline published by Stuart Baron & Associates and Workers' Compensation Claims Control. It is used with permission under the copyright of Stuart Baron & Associates.

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