Employment Law Advisory for September 25, 2013: Anti-Harassment Training Due in 2013 for Many Employers

California law not only prohibits discrimination and harassment, it also requires certain employers (those that receive services from 50 or more persons, including both employees or independent contractors) to provide formal training to their supervisors in the prevention and correction of sexual harassment. Many employers provided such training to their supervisory personnel in 2011, but have overlooked the fact that the law requires re-training of all employees with supervisory authority every two years thereafter.  As a result, companies that conducted training for their supervisors in 2011 must repeat the training before the end of 2013. In addition, employers must provide training to newly hired managers, as well as employees promoted into managerial positions for the first time, within six months of their hiring or promotion. 

The mandatory training law “is intended to establish a minimum threshold” for supervisory training.  Non-complying companies that become entangled in litigation concerning alleged discrimination or harassment are likely to be portrayed as indifferent or even hostile to their legal responsibilities, thereby increasing the risk of a substantial verdict and/or an award of punitive damages against them.  In addition, although the law applies only to companies with 50 or more employees and/or contractors, the training it requires has become, in the eyes of many, the de facto minimum standard for all employers.

If you have not made plans to provide the required training to your supervisors before the end of the year, we recommend that you do so as soon as possible to eliminate the risk that you will not complete the training before the end of the year. 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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