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#MeToo Movement: Workplace Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Is As Important As Ever

The #MeToo movement has brought a heightened awareness to the prevalence of sexual harassment. In California, larger employers are legally responsible for providing sexual harassment prevention training to supervisors. As of January 1, 2018, California law expanded this training to include gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.

Who must receive the training?

California employers with more than 50 employees and/or contractors must provide two hours of sexual harassment training to supervisors every two years. This mandatory training must include a component on preventing "abusive conduct" or workplace bullying.

In addition to retraining all supervisors every two years, every new supervisor must receive training within six months of accepting the position.

A "supervisor" is anyone who has the authority fire, hire, transfer, assign, discipline or reward another employee. Supervisors may also include individuals who have the authority to recommend these actions but may not have the power to carry them out.

What does the training need to cover?

Whether the training is conducted in a classroom, via e-learning, a webinar or other interactive online learning environment, there is a broad range of topics that must be discussed.

These topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Identifying unlawful harassment, discriminatory and retaliatory conduct under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII)
  • Examples of conduct considered to be sexual harassment
  • Steps to address harassment in the workplace
  • Reporting complaints of harassment
  • Reporting obligation of supervisors when aware of harassment, discrimination or retaliation
  • Responding to complaints of harassment
  • Steps to take if a supervisor is personally accused of sexual harassment
  • Employer's obligation to conduct an investigation
  • Identifying retaliation and how to avoid it
  • Essential elements of an anti-harassment policy and how to utilize it if a complaint is filed
  • A review of the definition of "abusive conduct" (i.e., workplace bullying)
  • Effect of harassment and abusive conduct on the harasser, victims, employers and co-workers
  • Available resources for victims of sexual harassment

What is abusive conduct?

"Abusive conduct" may be loosely defined as "workplace bullying." It 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 may not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe and egregious.

Who can provide the training?

There are generally three types of people who qualify as trainers:

  1. Human resources professionals and harassment counselors: These individuals must have at least two years of practical experience in one or more of the following areas: designing or conducting discrimination, retaliation and sexual harassment training; responding to sexual harassment or other discrimination complaints; conducting investigations of harassment complaints; or advising employers or employees on discrimination, retaliation and sexual harassment prevention.
  2. Law professors and instructors: A teacher at a law university, college or school may be able to provide training. The instructor must have a postgraduate degree or a California teaching credential and either 20 hours of instruction or two years of experience teaching employment law as it applies to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII).
  3. Attorneys: Attorneys who have been admitted to practice law in the United States for at least two years may provide training if they have practiced employment law issues under FEHA or Title VII.

Duggan Law Corporation Provides Training

The #MeToo movement reminds us of the potentially severe consequences of workplace harassment, both emotionally and financially. Thus, even California employers with less than 50 employees and/or contractors should consider workplace harassment prevention training to reduce the risk of lawsuits, agency charges and penalties, and other problems. All employers, regardless of the number of employees, may be held liable for harassment under California law.

Duggan Law Corporation's sexual harassment training is legally compliant, including an "abusive conduct" prevention training component. Please contact us at (916) 550-5309 to schedule your training today.

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