Effective January 1, 2019, employers that employ five or more employees in California must provide one hour of harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to all nonsupervisory employees, and two hours of such training to supervisory employees. This mandatory training must be provided by January 1, 2020, and once every two years thereafter.

Under the new law, “employee” includes migrant, temporary and seasonal employees. The training must be provided by trainers with knowledge and expertise in the prevention of harassment, discrimination and retaliation. It must cover specific topics, including abusive conduct, as well as harassment based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.

Now that this training is mandatory, failure to provide it as required will make an employer much more vulnerable to liability should an employee sue in court for sexual harassment. Where unlawful sexual harassment is found, ignoring the training mandates opens up an employer to punitive damages, which are often several times greater than the employee’s compensatory damages.

There may be a shortage of training programs available towards the end of the year as all employers rush to meet the deadline. We encourage you all to engage in a training program early to avoid the last minute scramble and the possible decline of resources.

Stoel Rives has developed a cost-effective training program that includes Spanish-language training. For more information on the training requirements and Stoel Rives’ employee training services, please contact Vida Thomas at (916) 319-4669 or vida.thomas@stoel.com.