HR Management & Compliance

California sexual harassment training: What’s required? Why train?

As a California employer, are you legally obligated to have sexual harassment training? Actually, the answer is yes. AB 1825 requires California employers with 50 or more employees to conduct sexual harassment prevention training every two years. It’s also just good business sense, since employers can be held liable for employee actions.

“Sexual harassment training makes good business sense for your company. Businesses work better when employees don’t feel sexually harassed. Harassment leads to lower morale, lost productivity, and increased turnover. It’s bad for every business—no matter what industry you’re in.” Nicole Legrottaglie highlighted in a recent CER webinar.

If sexual harassment occurs in your workplace, you’ll also face more disciplinary issues and the chance of lawsuits . Even if the employer isn’t found liable, it can still be extremely expensive and distracting.

AB1825 and the importance of sexual harassment training in California

One of the ways that you protect yourself is through training, and in fact it’s required by law for employers with 50 or more employees. However, just because you have less than 50 employees doesn’t mean that it’s smart to skip training.

Training raises awareness among employees. It also helps people to understand what constitutes sexual harassment. And if you do get into litigation, one of the things that will happen is that they will ask what measures were taken to prevent it.

Additionally, this training is in your own personal interest and that of your supervisors.

“Both supervisors and employees in California can be personally liable for harassment in certain situations. Personal assets [and] company assets would be on the line if litigation ensures and they prevail.” Legrottaglie explained.

What to include in sexual harassment training

The burden of preventing sexual harassment rests on the employer, and the most effective weapon is prevention. To prevent occurrences, employees should understand what sexual harassment is. Employers should provide education and training to employees on a regular basis. They should also develop a clear anti-harassment policy and communicate it to all employees.

Sexual harassment training is intended to provide information about:

  • What constitutes sexual harassment
  • How to prevent sexual harassment
  • How to respond to complaints of sexual harassment
  • Potential consequences if sexual harassment occurs

“These are all important points that you would need to cover in the training to ensure that your employees understand what sexual harassment is and how to avoid [committing] it.” Legrottaglie advised.

One of the simplest ways to accomplish this is to incorporate sexual harassment training into other initiatives aimed at building ethics in your workplace.

The above information is excerpted from the webinar “AB 1825 Harassment Training:
Learn the Compliance Obligations Your Organization Must Meet.” To register for a future webinar, visit CER webinars.

Nicole A. Legrottaglie is an attorney in the Sacramento office of Carothers DiSante & Freudenberger LLP. She defends her clients in a broad range of employment claims, including claims of discrimination, retaliation, harassment, wrongful termination, ADA/FMLA compliance, wage and hour, contract disputes, and unfair business practices.