California Expands Harassment Training Requirements

California Expands Harassment Training Requirements

On October 15, 2017, California governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 396 into law. SB 396 expands the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) mandate that employers with 50 or more employee provide bi-annual training on the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace.  As of January 1, 2018, employers subject to FEHA’s mandatory sexual harassment training requirements must ensure that the training programs they provide educate employees on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.

It is extremely important to note that gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation have been protected employment classes in the State of California for a number of years. With this in mind, harassment on the basis of any of these categories has been (and will continue to be) illegal under State law. Given the illegality of such behavior, many companies (including Syntrio) long ago took a proactive approach to training on these categories, as they fall within the penumbra of “harassment based on sex” that has always been important to educate employers about.

Gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation have become extremely hot topics in employment law in recent years, as all too many employers have ignored harassment on the basis of such characteristics in lieu of a reduction in traditional male to female sex harassment. This is a huge mistake given the number of incidents of harassment “based on sex” that occur in California workplaces in today’s day and age, and a mistake that SB396 attempts to formally correct.

Going forward we can expect to see even greater expansion into the two-hour training requirement set forth in California’s FEHA, which is a positive in terms of reduction in harassment lawsuits, yet a requirement that places a substantial time burden on businesses of all sizes.  For this reason, Syntrio synthesizes its discussion of gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation, pointing out that such behavior is illegal (and using practical examples), into a wider discussion on the topic of “harassment based on sex” as a whole.  We firmly believe that a streamlined discussion of these topics (while focusing on the core issues of their damaging nature) is the best way for managers to gain context of their importance while not taking up more time than is required by the state statute.

Syntrio’s methods of workplace harassment prevention training are how it became the leading provider of this type of training in the State of California. When other companies are touting their newly expanded courseware you can be confident that Syntrio was well ahead of the SB396 curve in including this material in its two-hour courseware before it was required by the State.

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Syntrio is a leader in both the ethics and compliance field, as well as human resources and employment law, and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of compliance violations within the organization. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards compliance program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content. Contact for more information about our ethics and code of conduct online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance that impact your company!

Written by, Jon Gonzalez, Esq., Chief Counsel for Syntrio


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