New California law mandates sexual harassment training for local officials

by Beth Kahn and Sigalit Shoghi
Morris Polich & Purdy LLP

Changes to California’s law requiring sexual harassment training for supervisory employees will go into effect on January 1, 2017, clearing up ambiguity about whether elected city officials are required to take sexual harassment prevention training and education courses already mandated for private-sector supervisors.

Assembly Bill 1661 requires that “local agency officials” (defined as any member of a local agency legislative body and any elected local agency official) receive sexual harassment prevention training and education if the local agency pays them any type of compensation, salary, or stipend.

Also, a local agency may require its employees to receive sexual harassment prevention training and education, regardless of whether they are elected officials or supervisors. The law requires local elected officials to take the mandatory sexual harassment training and education course within six months of being elected. The training must be repeated every two years.

The purpose of the law is to create uniformity among local agency officials and establish rules about sexual harassment in the workplace. Also, the law seeks to reduce exposure to litigation regarding sexual harassment, which has proven costly for both public- and private-sector employers.

Current law already requires California employers that have 50 or more employees to provide at least two hours of classroom or other effective interactive training and education on sexual harassment to all supervisory employees in California within six months of their assumption of a supervisory position. Thereafter, covered employers must provide sexual harassment training and education to each supervisory employee every two years.

For more information on new California laws related to harassment and discrimination, see the November 21 issue of California Employment Law Letter.

Beth Kahn and Sigalit Shoghi are attorneys with Morris Polich & Purdy LLP in Los Angeles. They can be reached at and

For resources on sexual harassment training in California, see “California Sexual Harassment Prevention and Response.”