CA AB 1825 Training California Sexual Harassment Training Free White Paper

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On September 30, 2004, California’s Governor Schwarzenegger signed the ab 1825 training law requiring all California employers with 50 employees or more to provide sexual harassment training to their supervisors every two years. Employers must include their full-time, part-time employees, and temporary service employees, as well as independent contractors. Since the law does not specify that the 50 employees must be within the state, the law applies to California employers with 50 total employees including those outside the state.

In fiscal year 2007, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 12,510 charges of sexual harassment. Of those cases received, the enforcement agency resolved 11,592 sexual harassment charges and recovered $49.9 million in monetary benefits for charging parties and other aggrieved individuals (not including monetary benefits obtained through litigation). And, according to Time magazine, “California is the most litigious state in one of the most lawsuit-crazy nations in the world.” More than 1.5 million civil suits are filed in California every year, with lawyers earning upwards of $17 billion annually in legal fees. The average cost to defend an employment claim is approximately $300,000, and the average jury verdict for sexual harassment claims is $1 million.

The Fair Employment Housing Authority (FEHA) defines the term “supervisor” in very plain terms which mean any employee that uses his or her own judgment to promote, hire, reward, transfer, suspend or discharge another employee is subject to the new requirement. More importantly, the employee who merely suggests such changes to occur may also be categorized as supervisor.

California is sending a very clear message to employers; simply put, “mark the box” sexual harassment training is no longer tolerated or acceptable. A stern reminder, a paragraph or two in an employee handbook, or even a mandatory discussion at a staff meeting – absolutely none of these constitute sexual harassment training.

By law, employers must now make an investment in highly trained professionals with both the knowledge and expertise to effectively train and evaluate employees.

In addition to basic documentation, which includes the names of the attendees and trainers, AB 1825 requires an employer to provide each supervisor with a copy of its anti-harassment policy and the employer must obtain documentation from each supervisor acknowledging the receipt of the policy, and the employer is legally required to maintain this documentation for not less than two years.

While both Connecticut and California laws state the mandated training must be interactive, California’s training law goes a step further and describes exactly what constitutes an interactive approach. AB 1825 forces employers to do more than just pass on information to their employees; companies bear the responsibility of selecting material that fulfills the requirements of the law and must utilize facilitators who have the credentials and ability to effectively deliver the training.

AB1825 requires 2 hours of interactive training, which precludes simply watching a video or handing out pamphlets. With these staggering figures, two hours of training is but a small fraction of the costs an expensive lawsuit can generate. Conducting regular training for all employees allows employers the ability to raise a defense or mitigate damages in the event of a sexual harassment claim or lawsuit.

As for course content, the state laws in California, Connecticut and Maine all share certain content in common:

  • Definition of sexual harassment
  • State and federal statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment
  • Identify various types of conduct which constitute sexual harassment
  • Employer’s obligation to investigate the validity of the claim
  • Remedies made available to victims of sexual harassment

AB 1825, however, also dictates the following course content:

  • Limited confidentiality of the complaint process
  • Handling claims when supervisors are accused of sexual harassment
  • How to use the necessary components of an anti-harassment policy if a complaint is filed
  • Each employer must provide every employee with a fully detailed anti- harassment policy
  • Supervisors’ and managers’ acknowledgment of receipt of the policy, and verification from each as to having read and understood the policy

Once the supervisors complete the training and acknowledge receipt of an anti- harassment policy, they are held fully responsible for knowing and applying their policies correctly. If a sexual harassment complaint arises, they may not plead ignorance of the law nor accuse the employer of failure to provide access to the written policy.

The sexual harassment training measures are good tools, with their effectiveness greatly enhanced through follow-up training and reinforcement. California’s AB 1825 recognizes that the most effective learning comes from education that is reinforced and recurring until completely a part of your company’s corporate culture.

Because of the enormous cost of liability to companies hit with sexual harassment claims, the hiring of true professionals to help with the implementation and training of your associates might be some of the best money your company can spend, in terms of preventable losses. We do know that claims, legitimate and unfounded, alike, have cost employers billions from coast to coast. However, it is impossible to even speculate as to how many billions are actually being saved by preventing the distracting, aggravating and costly litigation of sexual harassment claims that will never be filed because smart employers invested in proper training.

To learn more about California’s AB 1825 requirements and additional workplace training, please contact Compliance Training Group at (888) 338-0143, or request a training quote