If you are a California employer with over 50 employees, even if they are in other states or regular contractors, then you should know in 2016 AB1825 is a mandated training year for Sexual Harassment training. The training must be 2 hours long and interactive to be effective. The training can be a webinar or eLearning based but the most effective is live onsite training especially if it’s the first time the company has conducted the training. The training must be content specific in compliance with Section 7288.0. The employer must also keep track of the supervisory training individually or an employer can designate a specific training year for all the supervisors even if it falls short of the 2-year time frame.
2016 AB1825 The California Law And Its’ Consequences
The law was signed into law back in 2005 but became effective in August 2007 under the California Fair Employment and Housing Commission, with serious consequences if an employer meeting the mandated threshold of employees does not comply with the law and train their supervisors as required. Depending on the size of the organization, it is recommended to train all employees with a 1-hour basic training so that the company can document the training being received by the hourly employees and help diminish any potential claims the employee will go through the basics and not just rely on the supervisor to train when time permit or s situation arises.
All California companies with over 50 employees, to include contractors who are mandated and subjected to AB1825 must also include as of January 2015 an amendment to the training AB2053 which is the prevention training of “abusive conduct.” Under this amendment, “abusive conduct” essentially means any 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 use of verbal abuse, such as the use of profanity, derogatory remarks or comments to an employee or others in the workplace, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or any type of sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance. A single act shall not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe and egregious. This behavior will obviously trigger a further hostile work environment if allowed to continue without intervention by supervision or human resources personnel. Keep in mind, the amendment did not formally add “abusive conduct” as a protected category under FEHA but only at this time as a training requirement and a method for prevention of such behavior.
Costs Of Sexual Harassment Claims Can Be In The Millions
Sexual harassment claims can cost employers thousands, if not millions of dollars to defend, settle out of or go to trail depending upon the nature of the claim; not to mention the more uncontrolled area of “punitive damages” of which insurance dollars do not cover in most cases. These out-of-pocket punitive damages can bankrupt a company, lead to lay-offs, prevent company growth and cause morale problems among the remaining workforce – again depending upon on the matter is handled and communicated to the employees. The filing of a sexual harassment claim in conjunction with a claim of retaliation against an employee can result in the following “causes to sue for” damages and can be any or all categories covered in a lawsuit;
- Career forward to retirement & benefits
- Punitive damages
Employers Can Prevent Sexual Harassment Liability
Remember, not just in California but in all employer cases, supervisors, managers and their agents are “strictly liable” if they engage in sexual harassment; this also applies to the “knew of should have known ” measurability as well. With the 2016 AB1825 mandate California employers now have a deadline to get in compliance.
These graphs and case statistics in a Law Room- Litigation Scoreboard review from 3rd quarter 2015, show the trends of employees’ cases and wins in the harassment arena.
Remember, there is no employer liability in a sexual harassment claim if there is no actionable harassment or discrimination according to California court rules and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). AB1825 is the best preventative and effective training there is for employers in the 50+ employee threshold category but why wait for the magic number to trigger a mandated training, become engaged, at the very least conduct an hour basic training for all your employees to be safe and not sorry. One claim could be a disaster for any company depend8ing on the content and the end verdict.