By: Rebecca L. Gombos, Esq. and
Kristina Kourasis, Esq.

With California’s new sexual harassment laws, we expect sexual harassment claims to increase as the floodgates of reporting have opened up, prompting many to revisit their workplace policies and training. What is not obvious to many companies is how to deal with this change. With the prevalent focus on sexual harassment, it is important that you have compliant policies. There are also new sexual harassment training requirements for California employers that you must comply with beginning January 1, 2019.

Under California Senate Bill 1343, by January 1, 2020, and every two years thereafter, California employers with 5 or more employees must provide at least two hours of sexual harassment training to all supervisory employees and at least one hour of sexual harassment training to all nonsupervisory employees within six months of their assumption of a position.

For purposes of this law only, “employer” means any person regularly employing five or more persons or regularly receiving the services of five or more persons providing services pursuant to a contract, or any person acting as an agent of an employer, directly or indirectly, the state, or any political or civil subdivision of the state, and cities.

An employer who has provided this training and education to an employee after January 1, 2019 is not required to provide training and education by the January 1, 2020 deadline.

Also, beginning January 1, 2020, seasonal employees, temporary employees, or any employee that is hired to work for less than six months must be provided training within 30 calendar days of their hire date or within 100 hours worked, whichever occurs first. For a temporary employee employed by a temporary staffing employer, as defined in Section 201.3 of the Labor Code, to perform services for clients, the training must be provided by the temporary services employer, not the client.

Employers with 50 or more employees should continue to comply with the current requirement to provide supervisory training and ensure that they provide the one-hour training to all nonsupervisory employees by January 1, 2020 and every two years thereafter.

Employers may provide sexual harassment training in conjunction with other training provided to employees. The training may be completed by employees individually or as part of a group presentation, and may be completed in shorter segments, as long as the applicable hourly total requirement is met. The training and education shall include practical examples inclusive of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, and shall be presented by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in those areas.

Finally, for the past five years, our clients have decided to purchase Employment Practices Liability Insurance (“EPLI”) that includes a choice of counsel. EPLI is a business necessity for employers, just like workers’ compensation insurance. By working together in partnership with our clients and their respective EPLI carrier, we are able to obtain the best solution for our clients. Please contact us to get a list of EPLI carriers with whom we work, and who also offer a choice of counsel.