Q. My business conducts mandatory sexual harassment training for our employees. Which of our employees must attend our sexual harassment training, and what formats can we use to provide these trainings?
A. California Government Code Section 12950.1, part of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), requires all employers with 50 or more employees (or 50 or more independent contractors) to provide two hours of sexual harassment training to all supervisory personnel every two years.
Further, such employers must provide sexual harassment training to new supervisors within six months of the supervisor assuming a supervisory position.
Only supervisors who are based in California are required to undergo such training. So, employers with supervisors both in and out of California are not required to train out-of-state supervisors.
Under FEHA, a supervisor is a person with the authority to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward or discipline other employees, or who has the responsibility to direct employees, adjust their grievances or effectively recommend that action, if doing so requires independent judgment.
Employers may train their nonsupervisory personnel along with their supervisors without creating an assumption that nonsupervisory employees are supervisors.
Concerning the format, employers are permitted to use one of three methods to train supervisors: (1) classroom training, (2) webinars and (3) e-learning (including individually based computer programs).
Regardless of which method is used to satisfy the training requirement, the training sessions must be interactive in that they include “practical examples,” must discuss the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment and what qualifies as abusive conduct and must be “presented by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.”