California has stepped up its efforts to prevent sexual harassment from occurring in the workplace. Its latest regulations require any U.S. employer with 50 or more workers to provide mandatory sexual harassment training to their supervisors in the state.
California's new rules on Sexual Harassment took effect August 17, 2007. Since many businesses operate in markets across the country, including California, our Firm wanted to summarize these new rules and their potential impact. The changes in the Golden State raise a key consideration for Florida firms operating outside of the Sunshine State: businesses must be mindful of the affects of employment-related laws and regulations beyond those of Florida, federal and municipal governments. Here are the highlights of the California changes:
Content - The rules beefed up the content of sexual harassment training and now explicitly include a requirement that employers train on, among other things, strategies to avoid sexual harassment, remedies available for sexual harassment, “practical examples” derived from case law, role playing, case studies and group discussions, limited confidentiality of the complaint process, resources available to victims and what to do if the supervisor is personally accused of harassment.
(It should be noted that the workplace training Schwarzberg & Associates offers for clients already covers all of these.)
Method - Such training can be either in-person, e-learning, a webinar or by other effective, interactive training. Other “effective interactive training” includes the use of audio, video or computer technology in conjunction with classroom, webinar and/or e-learning training designed to assess the supervisor’s application and understanding of the content learned.
New Employees - The requirement for new-hire training has been increased. Our Firm is happy to discuss modifying your new-hire procedures so when new employees are hired, they will view the latest training materials. We can also have a qualifying trainer verify the supervisor’s application and understanding of the content learned. This will be a cost-effective method of ensuring compliance.
Trainer - The rules have significantly tightened as to who can complete the training. It is now required that an attorney with at least two years of practice in employment law under the FEHA and/or Title VII perform the training. If trainers are not qualifying attorneys, they must be either qualifying HR professionals with at least 2 years experience or a college or law school professor.
Documentation - Employers must keep documentation for a minimum of two years, including the type and date of training, the name of the supervisors trained and the name of the trainer.
Training Frequency - The new rules now provide two methods of tracking: a) Individual Tracking: retrain each supervisor within 2 years; b) Training-year tracking: companies must designate a “training year” during which training takes place. Then, these supervisors must be re-trained by the END of the next training year – two years later.
Newly hired or Promoted Supervisors - If employers are doing individual tracking, supervisors must be trained within six months of hiring/promotion. If employers are doing training-year tracking, the new hires get training within six months and still have to be retrained by the end of the next training year. If new hires were trained at another employer, they need NOT be trained with the 6-month window, provided they are given a copy of your current policy, acknowledge they have read it and receive individual training within 2 years or, if doing training-year tracking, have training by the end of the current training year. However, it is our recommendation that employers treat any new hire as NOT having been previously trained.
Changes in laws or regulations are often confusing, and California is an especially regulatory-intensive state for employers. Schwarzberg & Associates focuses its practice on employment law litigation defense, consulting and training, and is pleased to discuss procedures to assist you in complying with this and other employment regulations.
The Schwarzberg & Associates Employment Law Compliance and Defense Practice Group is here to help you defend unemployment claims, develop policies, procedures, and proactive responsive measures to these and other employment related issues. We also provide our clients with our employment law “hotline” which allows our clients, for a flat fee, to ask our employment attorneys general questions to assist in their compliance efforts. Please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Schwarzberg & Associates Employment Law Group: Steve Schwarzberg, Carrie Cherveny, Kristin Ahr, or Grace Murillo at 561-659-3300 to obtain more information about our firm and its various employment law compliance and defense services.