What Are California's Sexual Harassment Training Requirements in 2023?

What Are California's Sexual Harassment Training Requirements in 2023?

Sexual harassment should never be tolerated in the workplace. Even still, many men and women across the country report they have been sexually harassed at work at some point in their lives. One way to help reduce these incidents from happening is by conducting sexual harassment training at work.

In this article, we’ll go over all the major training requirements business owners should follow in order to be compliant with California’s workplace sexual harassment laws.

What Are California’s Sexual Harassment Training Requirements? 

Sexual harassment is illegal in California and is punishable by law. Despite increased awareness of sexual harassment and its consequences, many workers continue to face harassment because of their gender or other protected characteristic. As of 2023, California has updated its sexual harassment training requirements to better reflect the needs of today’s workforce. It is now required that: 

  • Companies with 5 or more employees in California must give harassment prevention training
  • Companies create policies and processes to prevent harassment, discrimination, and retribution
  • Distribute sexual harassment policy and information sheets to all employees

We will break down what each of these new requirements entails.

What Can My Company Do To Be Compliant?

Sexual harassment incidents in California are reportedly higher than the national norm. In California, more than 86% of women have reported experiencing sexual harassment, compared to 81% nationally. In contrast to the national average of 43%, 53% of men in California have reported sexual harassment. Having a sexual harassment policy as an employer is essential for both preventing inappropriate behavior and safeguarding yourself in the event an incident occurs at work.

Mandatory Anti-Harassment Training for Companies With 5+ Employees

California employers with five or more employees are required to provide sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to both supervisory and nonsupervisory employees. Nonsupervisory employees must receive a 1-hour training program every two years, while supervisory employees must take a 2-hour training program. This also applies to all California-based companies, even if they don't all work or live in California. Companies are still obligated to provide training to their California-based employees.

As long as the necessary, hourly total requirement is met, the training can be performed all at once or in segments. The training must include practical examples of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, as required by law.

Create Policies Preventing Harassment, Discrimination, and Retaliation

A robust anti-harassment policy is a deterrent. Employers must create a policy to avoid harassment, discrimination, and retribution. A strong anti-harassment policy creates awareness and signals that the practice will not be accepted. The policy must be written out, outline behavior that might constitute harassment, and give employees tools to report harassment. Failing to have a detailed written policy exposes a corporation to liability.

The written policy should consist of the following components:

  • List the categories that are currently protected.
  • Indicate that the mentioned conduct is banned not only for supervisors and managers but also for coworkers and third parties.
  • Clarify that supervisors must report any complaints or instances of misbehavior.
  • Outline the complaint process and allow individuals to file a complaint without notifying their immediate supervisor. Employees should not be subjected to retribution in the workplace as a result of reporting.
  • Employers will conduct a fair, prompt, and complete inquiry after receiving a misconduct allegation. If any wrongdoing is discovered, appropriate action will be taken.

Distribute Sexual Harassment Policy to All Employees

Simply having a written policy is not enough. Employers must distribute the sexual harassment information sheet. According to regulations, the company's policy must either be distributed on printed paper or emailed with an acknowledgment form. The updated sexual harassment policy should then be incorporated into new-hire orientation.   

What Should the Training Cover? 

The training aims to educate employees on abusive behavior, change workplace behaviors promoting harassment, prepare supervisors to prevent and respond to incidents and implement tools for addressing and correcting improper behavior.

According to California, these topics must be covered in training:

  • Explanations of the state and federal laws prohibiting retribution, discrimination, and unlawful harassment
  • What actions are considered to be unlawful harassment
  • Harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation and provide examples for each
  • How to prevent abusive behavior and outline the harm that it causes to both the individual and the workplace
  • What steps should be taken to change poor behavior, and how to prevent it in the workplace
  • Employer and individual responsibility
  • Resources available to persons experiencing unlawful harassment, including the reporting procedure
  • What to do if a supervisor is accused of harassment
  • Standard, legally sound anti-harassment policy fundamentals
  • Encourage employees to take part in an anti-harassment work culture by participating in bystander intervention training

California also sets out clear requirements for employers to follow regarding sexual harassment prevention training. The training must be presented to employees in a language and vocabulary that the employees can understand. For that reason, the training is offered in the following languages: English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog.

Employers are required to keep records of all employee training for at least two years. Every two years, employers must provide sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to their employees.

How Do I Make a Lasting Change?

In order for a sexual harassment policy to be effective, all employees must get training on sexual harassment prevention. Misinformation and confusion might lead to employees reporting to the wrong person despite the policies you've established. Employees should not have any doubts about how to handle the issue and where to direct their concerns.

Supervisors need to know how to safeguard privacy. While there are many requirements specific to California, especially if you have to manage offices or employees in multiple states that are subject to various laws regarding sexual harassment training, there is no need to stress over it.

HIPPA Exams provides a thorough sexual harassment training course covering relevant federal and state law in California. Do not hesitate, set yourself up for success and check out our catalog today.