By Andrew J. Hoag, Fisher Phillips LLP
New legislation will require almost every employer in the State of California, including agricultural employers, to provide sexual harassment training to all employees—including temporary and seasonal employees.
By January 1, 2020, all employers of five or more employees must provide at least 2two hours of sexual harassment training to all supervisory employees and at least one hour of sexual harassment training to all employees. Effectively, this means that in 2019, most employers in the state will need to provide compliant sexual harassment training that meets certain criteria to all of their employees. Previously, mandatory harassment training was limited to larger employers (employing 50 or more employees) and to larger employers’ supervisors.
The new law requires affected employers to train all of their employees by January 1, 2020; to train all employees within six6 months of hire; and to train every employee every two years thereafter.
The law also requires that beginning January 1, 2020, employers of migrant or seasonal agricultural workers provide compliant training to new nonsupervisorial workers at the time of hire and all nonsupervisorial employees at least once every two years. Effectively, this means that agricultural employers may need to provide compliant sexual harassment training to seasonal workers before those employees commence work.
The trainings have very specific requirements, including practical examples of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation presented by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in those areas. Accordingly, while the new law requires the Department of Fair Employment and Housing to develop or obtain training courses on the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace, employers may wish to contact counsel to provide Code-compliant trainings.
While the penalty for violation of the new training requirements is not severe—the DEFEH may seek an order requiring noncompliant employers comply with the training requirements—an employer’s failure to comply with the law could have significant legal implications if an employee files a claim for sexual harassment or failure to prevent harassment. Accordingly, agricultural employers should work with counsel to ensure compliant trainings and agricultural employers should maintain regular schedules to train all employees every two years, newly-hired employees within six months, and newly-promoted (to supervisory positions) employees within six months.
Andrew J. Hoag is an associate with labor and employment law firm Fisher Phillips in its Los Angeles office. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.