Every state has sexual harassment laws on the books, but very few states, California being one of them, mandate sexual harassment training for supervisors.
The idea with sexual harassment training in California is to stop it before it gets a foothold in a workplace. “The specific legislation used in California is dubbed the AB 1825 law and it outlines some incredibly stringent requirements for sexual harassment training,” said Deborah Barron, of the Barron Law Office in Sacramento, California.
What is unusual about AB 1825 is that it has a very high level of accountability attached to it. The driving point behind this piece of aggressive legislation is that education is the best protection against any potential sexual harassment claims.
California’s legislation also specifically outlines that companies who have 50 or more workers must hold this type of training, although the only people required to receive it are those that hold jobs as supervisors. “The Golden State mandates that sexual harassment trainers must be from one of several pre-determined categories that include an attorney, a law school/college professor, a harassment prevention consultant or human resources professional,” explained Barron. The ideal trainer would have in-depth experience in not only harassment, but also discrimination and the boomerang companion complaint in these kinds of cases, retaliation claims.
It is no longer acceptable to just give sexual harassment training a cursory nod and put out a newsletter with tips now and then or have a lecture on the topic. Employers are being mandated to have properly trained personnel teach their staff what they need to know about this inflammatory workplace issue.
California also requires complete documentation of all people who have taken a sexual harassment course. “This doesn’t just mean their names and addresses, it means every supervisor must have a copy of the company anti-harassment policy and provide proof that those supervisors did receive it,” said Deborah Barron, of the Barron Law Office in Sacramento, California. This isn’t just because someone wants to keep good records, as the documentation on the training process must be kept for two years.
Last but not least, California takes the lead over other states in how they teach sexual harassment awareness and prevention. No other state has anything like this. The course must feature skill-building exercises, ways to assess learning, interactive questions that involve all participants, real life examples, methods for reporting harassment, and ready access to the trainer to get questions and concerns ironed out.
Sexual harassment is an issue long overdue for the attention it is now rightfully receiving. “California has taken the reins and proactively put legislation into place to prevent this kind of harassment in the workplace,” added Barron.